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/ l*t y 
C. P**, 





MAN 



BOTHER TALES. 



n 



Awtlior of JEKOJie, Z J.e Dead Iflarrjuise, etc. 



A I, B A X Y : 

THE ^RGUS COMPANY. PRINTERS. 
1878. 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, ill the year 1878, by 

THE ARGUS COMPANY, 
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 



PREFACE 



flte following stories were written, with a single 
exception, for the columns of THE ARGUS, of 
Albany, JV! Y. 

Four of them have already appeared in successive 
Christmas members of that well-known journal- the 
fifth PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT now for the 
first time makes its salutation to the public, and in 
advance of any different form of issue. The remain 
ing story THE SECRET OF APOLLOXIUS SEPTRIO 
was published many years ago, anonymously, and 
under a less appropriate title. 



3:0 



an 



in, token of 



CONTENTS. 



HANNIBAL S M.AN, 9 

}N THR^EE HEADS, 55 

THE GHOSTS AT PRANTLEY, 12^ 

THE SECRET OF^FOLLONIUS SEPTRJO, i 79 

PRIOF^ PoLYCAHP s PORTRAIT, 247 

ST. NICHOLAS AND THE PNOME, 309 




OW that the earliest buds and blossoms of 
Spring are peeping stealthily above the more 
protected borders of the glacier, or from certain 
sheltered nooks of the surrounding snow-crowned 
slopes, it is one of my chiefest pleasures to wander 
forth and gather them as precious trophies, for the 
adornment of our mountain-cabin. This I do, not 
loving flowers for themselves. In my own land, the 
sweetest rose-buds, in the most romantic woodland 
nooks, would be passed by me unnoticed. But here, 
in the Alpine fastnesses, where for so many months 
the land lays fettered with snow and ice, and even 
chance passengers do not often journey by, those 
flowers are to me a type of coming Spring, a joy, 
in that they speak of partial release from hyperbo 
rean bondage, a memento of the softer climate of 
my own far-off country ; and as such I value them, 
apart from any sentiment connected with their own 
mere intrinsic beauty. 

Why then, since all the while my heart thus 
remains fixed upon the congenial memories of my 
native home, do I linger in this land of wintry 
captivity and cheerlessness? It is very easy to 
explain, indeed, why at the first I took refuge in such 



12 HANNIBAL s MAN. 

a lonely region. Disappointment in certain cher 
ished hopes, chagrin about baffled ambitions, the 
inevitable sadness engendered through failure in a 
friendship where most securely I had learned to 
trust, these several influences combined to create 
in me a temporary dislike of all the world, its society, 
restraints, and interests, and thereby drove me away 
to these Alpine wilds, where, more completely than 
elsewhere, I thought that I might avoid encounter with 
mankind. And yet, now that at last the morbid in 
fluence has left me, and once more I learn to pine after 
the pleasures and pursuits of the outer world, why do I 
linger longer in this enforced seclusion and only from 
the mountain heights gaze longingly into the sunny 
valleys through which so easily I might journey to 
my home ? Surely I do not love the mountains. 
Their unchanging outlines weary me, their passing 
lights and shades afford me no variety, their wintry 
blasts enfeeble me, their rude, uncouth inhabitants 
repel me. In the whole range of snow-crowned 
peaks I can gather no kindling of romance to inspire 
me with the least enthusiasm ; for me the dearest 
place on earth must ever be my little dingy home in 
the narrowest of all streets in Heidelberg. Yet here, 
in this tempestuous spot, I have remained the Winter 
through ; and at last it has been impressed upon me 
with the certainty of fate, that I shall never leave 
the Alps again. 

There is one prevailing reason for it all. Before 
I had remained many weeks in this uncongenial 
district, and while the freshness of the life of perfect 
isolation was still most powerful with me, I had 



HANXIBAL S MAN. 13 

chanced to see and at once had loved Ursula, She 
was a simple Alpine maiden of sixteen, herself an 
orphan, -- brought up in kindly, loving charity 
within the neighboring convent, and thereby natu 
rally remaining almost a stranger to the outer world, 
knowing, indeed, no other home than that of the 
circumscribing convent walls. I loved her, at the 
first meeting with her, for the soul-lit beauty of her 
face and the unapproachable graces of her lithe 
figure ; and she, childlike and trusting, loved me in 
return, inasmuch as she had learned to look upon me 
as marked with something different from the cross 

o o 

boorishness around her. Therefore, while yet the 
world remained distasteful to me, I had yielded to the 
impulse of my sudden love for her, and led her away, 
as my precious bride, to that little cabin set apart 
upon the mountain-side. 

There we have lived in happy freedom from all 
outward intrusion ; but now that there has come 
again to me a yearning for the past and its familiar 
scenes, it is mingled with a strange dread of making 
the attempt to realize them. For how may I dare 
to hope that Ursula can ever adapt herself to that 
other and more artificial life, of which, as yet, she 
has never even read ? And how, more especially, 
I ponder, can I venture, with due regard for my 
own peace of mind, to lead her into that outer world, 
where she would see other men, between whom and 
myself, so easily she could make comparison unfavor 
able to me ? For, in my heart there is an exceeding 
jealous nature, which I never can subdue. I know 
that she has chosen me because I am different in her 



14 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

eyes from any of the rough, uncouth people around 
her. And yet I am not of stalwart form or of pre 
possessing mien. Much delving over hidden roots 
of dead languages has taken from me all possible 
graces of the body. I know that, in a different 
land, she could not fail to see many men whom, for 
their appearance, she would naturally prefer to me. 
While I reside upon the Alpine slope, apart from 
others of our race, I can remain to her ignorant, 
untutored eyes a god ; but among different men, 
how can I answer for it that her simple, childlike 
nature, thinking no harm, but merely influenced by her 
instinctive love for the grand and beautiful, might 
not become warped from its true regard for me ? 
Better a life-long seclusion, indeed, than that this 
should happen. And so, while thinking upon my 
own country, with a longing that knows no rest, 
month after month, I find myself lingering among 
the sterile mountains. And telling Ursula that the 
world outside is very cruel, and, if possible, more 
forbidding even than among the avalanches, I press 
her close to my heart and glory in the pleasant 
deception which I feel would retain me ever constant 
in her sweet affection. 



"And now, thinking only of our mutual love and 
letting the outer world pass by, unheeded, we will 
vander forth once more," I said to her this morning, 
"and search for early flowers. Last week, indeed, 
we looked in vain : but since then the sun has shone 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 15 

out warmly, and already I see signs that the buds 
are sprouting below, against the glacier banks." 

" Why should we go to-day ? " she hesitatingly 
rejoined. "For listen how the convent-chapel bells 
are even now warning me." 

" I hear the bells, far down the Pass, tollino- a 

1 O 

requiem," I said. " It is the requiem of the chamois 
hunter who was killed two days ago. But ho\v can 
that affect yourself?" 

" I know not, except that these things always seem 
to influence my lot, however they may seem to apply 
toothers," she responded, -a shiver of apprehension 
passing over her frame. "Do you not know that I 
am the convent s child, and under its protection ? 
And so whenever I am about to encounter peril, a 
kindly warning is sounded out to me from the bells. 
While, if it is a coming joy, so do the bells announce 
that, as well. Doubtless the bells are now ringing 
for the slain chamois hunter ; but if it was not also 
meant as a warning to myself, I should not now be able 
to hear them. The wind would carry the sound the 
other way, or it would be deadened to my ears. But 
listen now to the dirge, how close it sounds, even as 
though the bells were just outside ! " 

" It is a foolish fancy, Ursula," I said ; " and one 
that would not no\v come to you, but for long con- 
fin":v.p.r.t. in the house. The purer air abroad will 
dissipate such vagaries. Come, let us depart ; for 
I know that since we were last at the Glacier, fresh 
flowers have been born to greet and cheer us." 

It was as I had supposed. Ere long, in a little 
recess where the rocks receded from the icy abra- 



16 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

eion, I found a tuft or two of grass amid thin layers 
of fast dissolving snow-wreaths; and in the center of 
all, a clump of pale lilly-shaped crocuses. I severed 
them carefully from the ground and first twined 
three or four in Ursula s thick tresses. Then hold 
ing the others in my hand for the decoration of our 
cabin, I turned with her upon the homeward path. 
Yet before departing, feeling moved by some indefin 
able curiosity, I approached the edge of the great 
Glacier and gazed down upon it. 

The vast icy sea here and there was cracked and 
broken roughened in wide portions as though, at 
one time, watery waves had been raised upon it by 
the wind, and frozen by instantaneous blast ; and 
throughout its greatest extent, was covered with 
sheets of snow, laying many feet deep upon it. In 
certain spots, however, the snow had either blown 
or melted away, and in other places the surface of 
the ice had liquified and again been frozen with 
glassy smoothness. This happened to have been the 
case just where now I stood; and I could look down 
many inches into the clear, unruffled depths of the ice, 
almost with the same ease and distinctness with 
which one can gaze into a quiet pool belonging to a 
running spring. 

O I O 

"See, Ursula !" I said, after a moment, and point 
ing downward. " A log." 

It lay, apparently, two feet below the surface of 
the ice, indistinct and shadowy in form, but evidently 
a log. What else, indeed, could it be ? 

" Yes, a log," remarked Ursula. " Can it have 
been there very long do you think?" 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 17 

"Who knows? For centuries, perhaps," I said. 
And then, a little proud, it may be, of my power to 
instruct, I told her all I knew about the theory of 
the glacial formations. How that this same river 
of ice had been forming from above for many gen 
erations and working downward upon its rocky bed, 
at the rate of a few inches every year, until at last it 
would decompose and melt away into the valley 
below. How that it had the faculty of grasping and 
concealing within its icy embrace, more securely than 
within miser s chest, whatever might cross its path ; 
but how that after long periods, it might even be 
after many centuries, it was always forced to release 
its prey, which, from the melting of the surface of 
the ice and possibly from some inherent power of 
self-extrication, would gradually work up into the 
outer air and become forever free. How that this 
same log, imprisoned for so long, was now doubtless 
upon the point of attaining its release, and in a few 
months would float away on mountain stream, down 
to the sea itself. 

" And we will watch it in its efforts after freedom, 
my love," I said, as we returned to our home. " It 
will be a pleasant pastime for us during the passage 
of the Summer." 

A very little thing, indeed, for me to interest 
myself about, after my enlarged communications of 
the past witli the outer world. And why, in fact, 
do I not only ponder long upon it after our return, 
but even write down the whole circumstance in 
exact detail ? Hardly do I know, or even whether 
it is one or several causes that impel me. It may be 



18 HANSiBAils MAN. 



that I give heed to such a trifle simply because there 
is no other way to occupy my time. It may be that 
through want of proper exercise for it, my mind is 
already losing its proper tone and attuning itself to 
trivial things. And it may be, after all, that I am 
influenced by the desire to make true record of 
Ursula s superstitious fancies at the moment when 
her very words are still fresh in my memory ; so 
that hereafter reading them, and acknowledging that 
no misfortune has come to her, she will learn to dis 
possess herself forever of such vagaries. It is not 
pleasant to see her sitting beside the fire, her head 
buried reflectively between her hands, and her whole 
attitude that of one moodily brooding over a mys 
tery. Rather should she learn to laugh merrily at 
the whole conception of a warning from the con 
vent bells. 



A week has slowly passed away ; and this 
morning we have repaired once more to the Glacier. 
When there before, I carefully marked the position 
of the log ; and from my close measurements, I now 
find that the whole body of ice has moved one inch 
along the bank. This, of itself, would make little 
change. But meanwhile the sun has been hot, and 
the sloping of the surface of the ice from the center 
of the Glacier has allowed the melted portions to 
run off, and I can now see clearly that the log has 
been brought much nearer to the surface than before, 
so that I can inspect it with increasing distinctness 
of observation. And I now find that, though a log, 



HANNIBAL S MAN. iy 

it bears something of the shape of a man ; a branch 
or that which might be a branch, being projected 
from the side like to an extended arm. 

" And of course it must gather in interest for us, 
Ursula," 1 remarked, as I pointed out to her this 
fact. " For now we can plainly see that the log has 
somd attempt at rude carving. Jn truth, I have 
little doubt that it is an old-world representative of 
a heathen god, most probably a statue of Odin 
himself. Once honored as an idol, this log must 
have been accidentally thrown into some abyss, to 
become, after many centuries, a study for our pro 
fane gaze." 

To Ursula, the theory seems to bring little inter 
est. How could it be expected, when in all proba 
bility she has never even heard of Odin? But with 
myself, it fills the mind with strange speculation. 
Can it be that, after all, this apparently profitless 
existence in the Alps is destined to make me famous 
as the discoverer of a rare relic of an ancient race? 



-Ao-ain an interval of a week, and once more we 

& 

have visited the spot. And now I find that I must 
alter my previous conjecture. All this while I see 
that the supposed idol has been gradually approach 
ing the surface still nearer ; and now that I can 
examine it more closely, I can detect that it is no 
mere rude carving of a savage age. A charming 
bronze statue, rather, of the highest type of art, sc 
natural is it in its proportions and attitude. A 



20 



representation of a warrior in helmet, breastplate 
and sandals, with shield upon his arm and short 
sword at his side. One leg is thrown a little for 
ward, and the shield is raised so as to cover the 
head ; yet, not sufficiently to conceal a portion of 
the helmet crest. For many minutes I gazed in 
almost speechless admiration. 

"A wonderful discovery!" I broke forth at last. 
" And who can tell how valuable ? To the archaeolo 
gist, a revelation, to the artist, an inspiration, to 
us, a possible fortune. Of the age of Augustus, it 
may be, or even earlier. And how came it here ? 
For how many centuries may it not have been 
imbedded in this solid ice ? Ursula, in another 
fortnight, at the most, \ve can obtain possession of 
our pri/e. Until then, let us subdue our impatience, 
and watch to see that no one may spirit it from us." 

And, that no possible precaution maybe neglected, 
I have sprinkled snow lightly over the spot, lest any 
other person passing, an improbable circumstance, 
indeed, may look down into the clear ice and claim 
my prize. Each day, henceforth, will I sally forth 
to watch for indications of intrusion. Yet all the 
while will I struggle to subdue my own impatience, 
and not look too prematurely upon the statue ; 
preferring to wait until the elements may deliver it 
up to me, and then to enjoy, in sudden and complete 
fruition, the sense of its artistic loveliness. 



HAXxrnArSs MAX. 21 

Now let me strive to regulate my thoughts aright, 
uO the end that I may set do\vn everything in due 
sequence and in order, without confusion or exaggera 
tion, and thereby, hereafter reading it with more 
collected brain, perhaps, may know that it was not 
a dream. 

This morning the fortnight of probation that I 
had allotted to myself came to an end, and I could 
control mvself no longer. Taking a shovel and 

o o 

pickax in either hand, and accompanied by Ursula, 
I proceeded to the spot where lay my treasure, 
gazed carefully around to see that even at that last 
moment there was no danger of intrusion, and then, 
hurriedly and with nervous hand, brushed away the 
lijlit covering of snow. 

The warm sun of the advancing Summer had 
well done its work. The statue was now within a 
few inches of the surface, and a portion of the up- 
stretched shield had even begun to obtrude slightly 
into the outer air. The covering of ice was now 
soft and brittle. Even the pick was scarcely neces 
sary for its removal. Carefully scraping around 
with the shovel, I succeeded in removing most of 
the incumbent weight of ice ; and at length, to my 
inconceivable satisfaction, the whole statue lay 
expose 1 to view. 

I lifted it a few inches from the ice, to assure 
myself that all was clear and disconnected beneath, 
and then gently let it fall into place again. I could 
not but notice that it was scarcely as heavy as it 
ought to be, for a work of solid bronze ; and yet, for 
the moment, I suffered my mind to dwell only 



22 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

slightly upon that circumstance. The rather did I 
ponder upon the position and attitude of the statue. 
It lay, as I have already said, with one leg ad 
vanced and the shield raised as though to cover the 
head. A striking pose, indeed ; and yet there was 
something in it, that, from the first, instinctively 
confounded me. Then, after a moment, I saw that 
this arose from the attitude of the statue being such 
that, if placed upon its feet, it could not sustain 
itself without external support, the center of grav 
ity being too far forward and the feet themselves 
not adjusted upon the same level. Moreover, there 
were no appearances of outward fastenings, whereby 
it might possibly have been designed to rest against 
a column behind. Apart from these mysterious 
defects, it struck me as a marvelous work of art ; 
the muscles of arm and leg being admirably defined, 
and the torso, wherever the termination of the ar 
mor allowed its display, being a wonder of correctly 
defined anatomy. 

"What think you of it, yourself, Ursula ?" I 
inquired, turning towards her. Her gaze was fast 
ened, as mine had been, upon the statue ; and I 
looked to see signs of admiration in her expression. 
But all at once I noticed that she turned pale, a 
startled gleam of terror shot across her face, she 
gave a broken scream and fell nearly fainting into 
my arms. 

"Did you not see?" she gasped, partially recov 
ering herself. " Look ! The statue has moved ! 
It moved while I was looking at it ! " 

I turned again, ready to smile at her fears, and 



HAX^IBAL S MAN. 23 

deeming her apparent impulse of imagination only a 
new test of the artistic excellence of the statue, 
thus enabling her to deceive her own eyes with the 
contemplation of its life-like truthfulness. But I 
myself almost gasped with terror when I saw that it 
had actually moved. The leg was thrown further 
forward, and the shield had dropped towards the 
knees, exhibiting what had been previously con 
cealed, a rugged and unexpectedly aged appear 
ance of face, partially covered with curling gray 
beard. The face was bron/ed, indeed, yet of a 
different color from the rest of the body. And 
while I looked on with an indefinable apprehension 
of something, 1 could not for the moment even 
attempt to explain, the figure rolled its head slightly 
towards one side, the eyes opened with a tremulous 
movement, like that of a person exposed to sudden 
light, and there came the convulsive quiver of a 
long-drawn breath ! 

"Merciful heavens!" I said, "it is really a living 
man !" And resting my wife in convenient position 
upon the bank, I hastened to the relief of the stran 
ger. I took him in my grasp, placed my hand 
beneath his head, and so gradually raised him into a 
sitting posture. To this he submitted without resist 
ance, appearing, for the moment, like one who had 
not sufficient perception to comprehend anything 
that might be done with him. Hut in a few min 
utes, his eyes becoming more accustomed to the 
strong sunlight, remained open with less strained 
aspect; a light of new intelligence the birth of a 
living soul, as it were began to glow in them. 



24 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

changing their lack-lustre appearance into an ani 
mated sparkle of inner perception; he breathed 
tremulously once or twice again; then drew up one 
leg in more easy attitude between his extended 
hands, and gazed inquiringly at 7ne. 

" Who are you ?" I demanded, with little hope, 
however, of being understood. And in this opinion I 
w as correct, for he merely gazed upon me with puzzled 
expression, left his eyes to rove up and down my 
dress with something of a dawning smile, and answer 
ed me in certain uncouth sounds, which were as in 
comprehensible to me as mine had doubtless been to 
him. Meanwhile, Ursula, having somewhat recov 
ered from her first fright, arose and approached us, 
her curiosity apparently overpowering any remains 
of fear. 

" I see it all now, Ursula," I said to her, anxious not 
merely to give to the facts that sensible explanation 
which would remove from them all suspicion of the 
supernatural, but also not unwilling once more to 
exhibit my capacity to instruct. " I see it all. He 
is merely a man, like myself, and not a statue." 

" And he has come 

" Who knows from where or how long ago ? But 
that he is a living man, how can we doubt? You 
have never heard, perhaps, how that certain animals 
have been brought to life again, after long exclusion 
from the air. Or how that there are fishes that may 
be fro/en, and, after months, thawed out alive. What 
is that se:-ret power of retention of existence, which 
belongs to some brutes and srems forbidden to man 
kind ? Or is there really any such power that we do 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 



25 



not have as well as the brutes, being, as yet, merely 
ignorant of its proper application ? Some persons 
have conjectured the latter, indeed; and have lono- 
wearied their brains in efforts to solve the enigma 
and apply to the human race those principles which 
preserve the brutes. Once or twice it has been 
believed that the secret was really discovered ; but 
yet the result could not be tested, for want of some 
one sufficiently confident or enthusiastic to allow of 
the experiment being tried upon his own person." 

" And you believe that here " 

" Here, Ursula," I continued, delighted to find that 
she had so readily grasped the idea, " here, it seems to 
me, that nature has at last taken the experiment into 
her own hands, and, by what we would call an acci 
dent, has fulfilled all the necessary conditions for the 
continued suspension of the existence of a human 
being. At some far distant time, this man must 
have been overwhelmed near the mountain-top in a 
sudden fall of avalanche, the wreaths of snow grad 
ually thereafter turning into ice and so begirting 
him as to retain his vitality in suspense, and thereby 
hinder corruption. lie- has formed a portion of the 
Glacier for many centuries, perhaps ; and now, at 
the melting of the ice, near the mountain base, he is 
at last released alive, for our edification and instruc 
tion. Truly, he may yet prove of more value than 
many mere statues of bronze or marble." 

Meanwhile, the man, gaining confidence in his 

powers during those few moments, had slowly 

gathered his forces together and now raised himself 

into a standing position. Tottering weakly, at first, 

3 



26 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

indeed ; but soon recovering more of his strength, 
so that, with all his ripeness of age, he was able to 
assume something of an erect and self-possessed 
posture, as of a soldier on guard. Little by little, 
and yet with such steady gradation that I could per 
ceptibly watch its progress, full restoration to what 
must have been his former state came upon him. 
Some hitherto latent natural heat of the body 
evolved itself ; and, in a moment, the moisture of 
his scanty dress that unavoidable moisture with 
which his long detention in the ice must have 
imbued him began to pass off in visible steam, 
and soon he stood dry and comfortable as though 
raised from flowery bank. The first pallor of his 
complexion, tinged with livid green, faded away, 
giving place to as ruddy a glow of health as old a.ge 
can ever expect to exhibit, and evidently his blood 
commenced a new circulation after its long stagna 
tion. Momentarily his eye grew brighter and more 
earnest in its intensity. I could not help marveling 
at the change. A few moments before, and though 
recognizable as a human being, he had lain at my 
feet, imbued with all the repulsive attributes of a 
corpse. Now he stood a well formed man, as 
athletic in appearance as might be consonant with 
wrinkles and gray hairs, instinct with health and 
ambition, animated with a certain pleasing dignity 
of manner which could not fail to impress me with 
a consciousness of what he might have been in the 
long past days of youth or even middle age. 

"Come," I now merely said; and taking him by 
the arm, I led him away, while Ursula walked at 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 27 

his other side, ready to give him her support, as well, 
if his so recently recovered strength should chance 
to give way. But that there was no danger of this, 
however, I could soon observe. He had recovered 
his forces not readily again to part with them. In 
silence he suffered himself to be conducted away, 
evidently mystified with the singularity of his situ 
ation, but not in the least realizing his true condition, 
nor where he had been brought to life, nor, at the 
moment, able to reconcile the present scenes with 
the cloudy torrent of past recollections sweeping 
through his bewildered brain. Most likely his latest 
memories must have been about matters that seemed 
not many hours old. How, then, he must have 
speculated, did he conic hither and among persons 
so strangely clothed? I could see with what con 
fused curiosity lie glanced at the dress of Ursula 
and myself; a curiosity which was not at all dimin 
ished as he surveyed, on reaching home, the archi 
tecture of our cabin, as well as the furniture and 
implements within. 

And there at last he sleeps, lying across my 
hearth, in curled up posture like a dog. I look down 
upon his outstretched arm still grasping his shield, 
his other hand wildly tossing to and fro, in the agi 
tation of his broken slumber, I listen to his loud 
breathing, and I watch the flickering firelight play 
upon his wrinkled face and tangled gray locks. 
And again and again I ask myself who he mav be ! 

~ O -/ 

Of what nation and of what distant age? And 
what must have been the dire extremity of that na 
tion, that for its defence, even old age must thus 



28 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

have been summoned to the camp and forced to 
bear the sword and buckler? 



We have given food and shelter to the stranger, 
and now for many weeks he has been abiding with 
us. At first I supposed that he would have taken 
early opportunity to depart, as escaping from im 
agined captivity ; but such was not the case. He 
seemed, indeed, rather indisposed to suffer me to go 
out of his sight, as though deeming himself lost 
without me. Whether his long dormant system 
needed repose of another kind, or whether he has 
been uncertain whither he could betake himself if 
he fled, I do not know. But for many days at a 
time he has remained in a listless, indolent state, sit 
ting in his armor at my cabin door, with some 
thing of the same indifference for the future with 
which an Indian, surfeited with the fruits of the 
chase, will lie around his wigwam ; and if I move 
away upon any exploration of the neighborhood, I 
find him tagging at my heels like a dog, apparently 
uneasy in mind until he sees me safely home again. 

Little by little I have made my own discoveries 
about him. And almost from the very first, I have 
ascertained my error regarding his age. For after 
all he is not an old man, tottering in enforced 
military servitude, to assist the waning fortunes of 
an imperiled state. Those earliest appearances of 
decrepitude were nothing more than the natural 
results of long confinement from the light and air ; 



HANNIBAL S MAN. -29 

and under the new conditions in which he is placed, 
they have passed away almost like a morning mist. 
At first, with the influence of food and warmth, the 
gray locks seemed to gain life, and rapidly changed 
to a dark, rich brown. Then the complexion 
softened into the soft hue of youth, and little by 
little each ugly wrinkle cleared away. After that 
the form grew more erect, gaining at least three or 
four inches in height. And so, step by step, the 
seemingly old man has grown young, and in less 
than a fortnight, has recovered all his natural 
beauty and elasticity, and stands disclosed to us a 
glorious creature, strong, athletic and alert, with 
the air and manner of a god, every limb moulded 
with more than artistic excellence, the face radiant 
with intelligence, the whole creature instinct with 
almost every quality of physical perfection that har 
moniously can adorn manhood. 

Noticing this change, I have made other discov 
eries concerning him. And commencing at the first 
with matters of mere habit and costume, I have 
noticed that the shield, which still as by force of 
custom he bears around with him, is not of iron, as 
I had at first supposed, but is of stiffened layers of 
bull s hide, bound together with metal rivets. There 
are strange characters embossed upon it, however, 
defying my interpretation ; and the crest of his 
helmet together with the projections of his breast 
plate, bear unknown figures by way of ornamenta 
tion. Once I have seen him prostrated in devotional 
attitude before the rising sun. Who, indeed, I 
then again for the hundreth time said, can be this 



30 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

creature, strangely raised into life from his icy tomb ? 
In regard to this, however, I have not been long 
in gaining some knowledge. I cannot, as yet, it is 
true, decipher the inscriptions upon shield or hel 
met, and for a time his language seemed merely a 
series of uncouth articulations ; nor could I detect 
the slightest recognizable sound in the utterances, 
which, at certain moments, he instinctively poured 
forth. But I have been, in past years, a diligent 
student in languages, giving myself up to the philo 
sophy of philology and fond of tracing up modern 
sounds into their Sanscrit and Shemitic roots ; and 
thus it chanced that a few days ago I fancied that 
in a random utterance of this strange creature, I 
detected a familiar articulation. Upon this, I grew 
more intent, and with similar utterances of my own, 
encouraged him to speak. Little by little I managed 
to connect his articulation with ancient roots, the 
one running into the other and then back again so as 
to form an almost incomprehensible maze, yet fraught 
with certain suggestions of method. And this very 

OO 

morning it has happened that a single expression 
of his has let into my mind a flood of light. All 
the loose ends of uncertainty have now gathered 
themselves into place, making a woven web of con 
sistency. And, with a thrill of joy I have discov 
ered that, by using simple expressions, I am able to 
converse with him in his own language. 

"Who are you?" of course, was my first inquiry 
" I am one of Hannibal s men," he answered. " We 
are on our way across these mountains to attack the 
Romans." 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 31 

"And how came you here ? " I continued. 

"That is what I scarcely know," he responded. 
K We left Carthage a few months ago, and went to 
Hispania. And when, by force of arms, we had occu 
pied that country, we set out across the mountains 
to attack Rome. On the route I must have fallen 
into the snow, and been detained. But where, now, 
is the army ? And where is Hannibal?" 

"The army is gone, all dead and gone, and 
Hannibal as well," I answered. " You think that 
your mischance happened a few days past, do you 
not ? Know, on the contrary, that it is more than 
twenty centuries ago." 

"And what, then, is a century ? " 

" That is to say, over twenty hundred years ago," 
I explained. 

" Do you think me a fool, to tell me such a story 
as that ?" he exclaimed, with indignation. And for 
the moment, he would listen to no word further 
from me, but resolutely and speechlessly turned 
his back. And I could see that, with the revival of 
new thoughts, his glance passed inquiringly and long 
ingly across the crest of that Alpine range, as though 
he might yet, in some far off point, behold a section 
of the long vanished cohorts winding its way across 
some open space. 

Meanwhile, I have one duty to perform, and that 
is, to call the attention of the scientific world to the 
examination of my prize. I have the gift of 
language sufficiently to converse with him, but I 
have not the archa3ological ability to make our con 
versation properly available. There are those alive 



32 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

who know how to examine him, through me, for the 
determination of important questions of antiquity; 
and I feel that I must lose no time in giving them 
the opportunity. 



Will it be believed ? So incredulous is the world, 
that all my efforts have been of no avail. I had 
thought to confer upon the world of science, art and 
history a benefit, in making it acquainted with my 
strange guest. But though I have written to scien 
tific and antiquarian devotees in every direction, my 
letters have elicited no response. Each person has 
seemed to believe, either that I am practicing upon 
his credulity or that I am bereft of my senses. 
Indeed, in a German paper, yesterday, I read a 
republication of one of my letters, with sarcastic 
comments upon my sanity. There has not been one 
answer to all my appeals; and instead of the crowds 
of archaeological inquirers whom I had expected to 
see pressing forward to my home, there remains 
almost unbroken solitude, still, only the Cartha- 
genian soldier, Ursula and myself. 

Therefore, I now give up my efforts, and leave 
the world to that forgetfulness it deserves. Mean 
while, of all the three, Ursula, at least, has not been 
idle. Her womanly sympathy has been aroused, 
and she has desired to have the heathen soldier 
instructed in the mysteries of our faith. In vain I 
have proposed to instruct him rather in those usages 
and appliances of modern times, which, for his 
own comfort, it is most befitting that he should 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 



33 



know. To every such demand upon my part she 
has had some ready answer with which, for the 
moment, to overcome me. Therefore have I yielded 
to her, and day after day have sat before the two, 
interpreting her instructions to him. 

And all this has turned out as I anticipated. To 
her arguments upon the mysteries of our religion, 
he has exhibited utter inability of comprehension, 
while his attention has sorely wandered. To her 
narration of gospel history, he has manifested 
incredulity rather than want of interest. In no 
respect has he exhibited any serious regard to her 
word,-?, indeed, except where she has spoken about the 
feast and ceremonies belongino- to the cnurch. Pos- 

o o 

sibly he has found something in them akin to the 
usages of his own religion, thus awakening his mem 
ories of home. Doubtless, also, youth and vigor, 
accustomed to a life of gayety and pleasure, could 
not well fail to find some excitation of spirit in the 
recapitulations of observances relating to occasional 
admitted abandonments of discipline. Carthage, 
doubtless, had its feast days ; and it is easy for him 
to confound with these, the more serious and well 
tempered festivities of the modern church. 

And amidst all this, there has come to me a new 
reflection, instinct witli terrible anxiety. To-day I 
have happened to note, more narrowly than I have 
ever done before, what a very handsome young 
soldier this man of Hannibal chances to be, how 
well-formed are his features and how gracefully 
poised, his head, how finely shaped are his limbs, 
and how becomingly his armor sets them off, how 



34 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

he stands in height a head and shoulders over me. 
And gazing stealthily towards my wife, I note how, 
from time to time, she turns her head in his direc 
tion ; drawn thitherward in unconscious, unsuspect 
ing admiration of that wonderful physical beauty. 
I know that her heart is faithful to me ; and yet 
I begin to think that the time might easily come, in 
the which her admiration could unwittingly change 
to love and I lose all. I have lived for months in 
this desert solitude, so repugnant to me, only that I 
may let her see no other man than myself, and 
.thereby be released from any chance of suffering 
through ungenerous comparison. Must all my pre 
cautions now be set at naught by the presence of this 
warlike young heathen Adonis ? Truly I must get 
rid of him as soon as possible. 



It is accomplished; and to my mingled gratifica 
tion and surprise, more easily than I had anticipated. 

"Why do you linger here?" I said to him this 
morning. "Have you no wish to go back to the 
land of your birth, to your own native Carthage ? 
Though you may not see it in all respects as you left 
it, will it not be something to see it at all and in 
any condition whatsoever?" 

" You say well," he answered, starting up, as with 
the impulse of an entire new thought. " I will go 
thither at once. Only put me in the way of it." 

Thereupon I have marked out his route for him 
and told to what ports he must hie, and how thence 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 35 

he could cross over to the opposite shore of Africa. 
And fearing, lest through the singularity of his cos 
tume, he may be detained ere he is well on his way, 
I have persuaded him to lay aside his armor, and 
clothe himself in the fashion of the day. To this 
effect, I have put him into a cast off suit of my 
own, judiciously altered by Ursula ; and so have 
bidden him good-by and set him off upon his jour 
ney. And now, at last, surely I am ridden of him. 
For I can never even dream that he will be able to 
thread the mazes of unknown lands expertly enough 
to find his way back again ; even if, as is very 
unlikely, he escapes being knocked upon the head, 
by reason of some unwitting trespass upon the 
rio-hts of others. 



Trouble upon trouble ! He has been gone only 
two months; and this day, upon returning from a 
stroll, to my amazement I beheld him sitting con 
templative at my cabin door. In disgust of modern 
usage, he had resumed his antique dress and armor, 
and now looked more gloriously beautiful than ever. 

"Ha! Can it be?" I exclaimed, and in no hospi 
table tone. 

" Listen," he said. " I went to Carthage, or what 
once was such. I crossed to Africa in some sort of 
a ship, worked by a power to which three banks of 
galley slaves with oars would be as nothing. I stood 
at last, not within Cartilage, but only where it had 
been. There were merely a few sewer arches and 



36 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

a broken column or two. Why did you not tell me 
in advance that this was to be all ? Where are my 
family, my altars, and my gods? Where is the 
army, and where is great Hannibal himself ? I begin 
to believe that I may, indeed, have slept beneath 
the snow-drifts a little longer than I had supposed. 
Only a stone or two of the magnificent city now 
left! and they tell me that the Roman dogs whom 
we so often slew in heaps, have made all that 
ruin! " 

" True, it is the Roman dogs that have done it," I 
responded, eagerly following out the new ti ain of 
thought. " Why, then, do you not take your revenge 
in seeing how mercilessly they have been punished 
in return ? Go now, therefore, to Rome itself, and 
observe how terribly the barbarians have overrun 
and devastated it." 

" Yes, I will do that," he exclaimed, his eyes kind 
ling at the revengeful suggestion. " That sight will 
give comfort to my heart ! I will go at once and 
feast upon Rome s misery ! There shall not be an 
hour s delay! " 

Therefore, once more he has stripped himself of 
his armor and assumed the less noticeable costume 
with which I had furnished him. Once more I have 
bidden him God speed, with the secret hope that he 
may be so speeded as never to return. 

" And yet," I mutter to myself with secret feeling 
of foreboding, " if such is to be the sequel, why is it 
that the bells of the convent chapel are tolling 
a saddened chime, as though there were misfortune 
still lurking in the air? If my persecutor is really 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 37 

never destined to return, would not the bells leap 
up and down in very cadence ? " 

Saying all this, it is not exactly with belief in Ur 
sula s superstition about the bells. But still, as she 
there sits, oppressed with the melancholy chiming, 
her hands pressed over her eyes, in spite of ray better 
judgment, I cannot help somewhat sympathizing in 
her mood, and thinking that after all, perhaps, there 
may be some method in the madness. Did not the 
bells ring out a requiem upon that unlucky day when 
first I discovered this terrible disturber of my peace 
lying in semblance of a senseless log? Throughout 
the coming months have the bells ever sounded one 
pleasant note for us, and all the while has not ill- 
fortune constantly gathered nearer? Is this to last 
forever, and will the bells never again pour forth 
one merry peal to cheer us ? 



Now to God be all . Yet let me not too pre 
maturely hurry to the end ; lest in my haste, forget 
ting anything now, my recollection may hereafter 
go astray. 

Last night was Christinas eve. We had prepared 
our cabin for the festive occasion after the manner 
of my German home. I had brought greens from 
the nearest forest, and Ursula and myself had 
twined them into wreaths, with which we hung our 
walls, while in the center of the room, after the 
manner of a chandelier, swung a great clump of 
larch. As the evening drew on, Ursula had re- 
4 



38 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

tired to rest, promising herself that she would ai ise 
at earliest dawn and greet the sunrise of Christmas 
day at the convent-chapel altar. Thereby I was 
left for the while alone ; and sat before the great 
fire of blazing, crackling logs, nodding over a favor 
ite classic, and wishing that I, too, had the resolution 
to retire. 

All at once I heard a heavy footstep crunching 
upon the trodden snow outside, then it ceased and 
there came a sudden furnbling with the latch. A 
moment more, and the door flew open and I saw the 
Carthagenian standing outside. Without a word 
he strode within, and seizing a chair brought it down 
with a violent crash at the other side of the fire 
place, and sullenly seated himself. 

" Again returned ! " I cried, still more discour 
teously than I had spoken at his previous reappear 
ance. " What ill wind " 

"It is that you have deceived me," he retorted. 
"Did you not assure me that I would have my 
revenge in seeing Home in ruins ? " 

"And is it not so?" 

" Here a ruin and there a ruin ; but what is that 
compared with the utter devastation of my own 
city ? Do I not, in spite of it, find a city to which 
the whole world presses forward with abject rever 
ence ? Do I not find families there existing, which, 
with more or less certainty, profess to be the descend 
ants of the very race that made desolation of my 
own ? Do I not there see, almost uninjured, the 
tomb of the very man who led his hosts against us ? 
Are not the annals still remaining, which show the 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 39 

full story of our misfortune and disgrace ? Am I 
to be satisfied, therefore, Avith the crumbling of a 
circus or the rending apart of a temple or two? 
What revenge is there in all that, indeed ? Yes, you 
have deceived me ! " 

" I offered you the best revenge I could," was my 
retort. " What better could I do ? " 

" And is it so, that such is the best thing the 
world can give me?" lie responded. "Then do I 
want nothing more from the world. I Avill abstain 
from it altogether. In future, this quiet spot shall 
be enough for me." 

"What mean you?" I cried, struck with a horri 
ble foreboding. " You intend 

" I intend here to rest. Why should I go further 
into a world that brings to me merely scenes of 
misery and. discomfort ? Now I know that my race 
and city, that the army and great Hannibal him 
self are all gone, even as you first told me. Here, 
then, will I remain, content to ask no other place." 

There was then silence for a few moments. He 
gazed moodily into the fire, I sat pretending to 
look upon my book, but found the letters swimming 
before me, as I reviewed the terrible fact that this 
man was about to fasten himself upon my whole 
life like a hideous incubus. Suddenly he started, 
raised his head and drawing off from his finger a 
large richly chased gold ring, placed it upon the 
open page before me. 

"Listen!" he cried. "She "and he nodded 
significantly towards the other room, " has tried to 
teach me to believe in your gods. I believe in them 



40 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

not, my own are sufficient for me. But yet, there 
are certain customs of your faith which are not all 
bad. To-night, I am told, is the night when in 
memory of the birth of one of your gods, men are 
wont to make gifts to each other. It is a good cus 
tom. So, there ! Take that ring, therefore, for your 
own. I got it with a Hispanian princess. I took the 
princess, also, but I gave her away to my friend. 
The ring only did I keep, and now it is yours." 

"And what" I said. 

"What shall you give me in return?" he cried. 
" What else, indeed, should you give me other than 
herself?" And again he pointed significantly 
towards the door of the other room. " I cannot live 
altogether alone, and she pleases me. Long enough 
already have you had her ; and I know that she will 
soon learn to love my youth and manhood the best." 

" And do you think that I will consent to " 

" Dog ! " he cried, ferociously starting up. " Dog 
of Roman descent, it may be ! Dare you object ? 
Do you think we of Carthage ravaged Hispania 
and crossed these mountains to be thwarted in Avhat- 
ever we desire ? Are we not the conquerors ? 
Oppose me, and I will crush your poor limbs together 
at a single blow ! " 

I listened to him with horror. My blood curdled 
within me. There was no doubt that, if it came to 
force, he could do as he threatened and crush me 
like an egg-shell. Nor could I protect my rights by 
appealing to his reason or to the laws. The latter 
were too far off from me. in my isolation, the for 
mer was not susceptible of guidance, in his present 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 41 

distorted state of mental vision. For I could see 
that he mingled the past with the present in such 
blinded shape as not to realize that the right as well 
as the might was not with him. He forgot, or 
rather could not comprehend, how many centuries 
had elapsed since the army had crossed the Alps 
in conquering array. Though all were now dust, 
mere memories of a long-buried past, to him 
there was remaining all the glory of a dominant 
race, gilding his armor and making his recollec 
tions glow with pictures as of yesterday. In his 
sight I was no other than one of a subjected people, 
rightfully given up to pillage ; and to him would 
Ursula appertain as spoil wrested from a slavish 
race. 

"Let us talk this over," I gasped forth at length, 
perceiving the necessity of temporizing with him. 
" You say well that this Christmas time is the period 
for exchanging gifts. But the exchange should 
be more equal than what you propose. Stay ! we 
will talk the matter over at our leisure with a bottle 
of Falernian. You must before this have heard 
our Roman drink well-spoken of. And now, what 
more have you to offer for her?" 

Gladly I saw that he was not disposed to be 
ungenerously exacting ; and, for the sake of peace 
between us, would come to fair terms, even at some 
fancied sacrifice to himself. Therefore we seated 
ourselves at different sides of the table, and com 
menced what was with me a deceptive negotiation. 
Under pretense of the Falernian, I brought out a 
bottle of wine, strong and insidious, such as he 
4* 



42 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

could never have drank of before ; and filling up his 
glass, I bade him propose his terms. He drank, and 
I could see the liquid mount with irresistible effect, 
into his eyes. He would give for Ursula his brace 
let, nay, he no longer had that, having gambled it 
away during the Hispanian campaign, but he would 
give his helmet and his shield, if those were not 
enough, he knew where, before leaving Hispania, he 
had buried a cup full of coin, and he Avould take me 
to the spot, he would give up for her, if necessary, 
his gods themselves. And so, profusely babbling 
forth his vain offers, at last his stupefied head sank 
slowly upon the table, and thence he gently slid 
upon the floor, and there at full length, slept. 

Then, restraining the momentary impulse to 
brain him as he lay, and thus, with one felonious 
blow, rid myself forever of the torment of his per 
secutions, I merely threw a long cloth over him to 
hide him from my sight, and opening the door that 
led into our chamber, called out to Ursula. 

" Arouse yourself, Ursula," I said. " Dress in all 
haste and let us depart from here. There is work 
before us and it must not be delayed." 

"And whither 

" Ask me not now. At some other time I will tell 
you. For the present, give little rein to your 
thoughts, and hasten." 

In silence and in full trust that at the proper time 
I would reveal my meaning and so ease her wonder 
ment, Ursula arose, and unhesitatingly prepared to 
obey me. A few moments, and all being ready, we 
departed. I led her quickly through the outer room, 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 43 

so quick that by the darkened light, she could not 
seethe form of the slumbering Carthagenian beneath 
the extended cloth. And so we hurried forth, and I 
turned the key in the lock, believing that I was leav 
ing the cabin forever. What mattered it, after all, 
as long as thereby I might find some other nook of 
peace upon the fuither side of the mountain, to 
which the barbarian could not track us? Whatever 
of worldly goods I here lost, could I not elsewhere 
replace? Only let me now make timely flight 
before the foe had a chance to awaken. 

So long had I been sitting up into the small hours 
of the night, before the Cathagenian had entered, 
and so protracted had been our subsequent negotia 
tion, that it was now near three o clock in the morn 
ing. The air was cool and crisp, yet not too cold. 
The snow was firm under foot, and altogether there 
was no bar to speedy progress. Within an hour or 
two silently threading the mountain passes, we suc 
ceeded in putting so great a distance between the 
barbarian and ourselves, that I feared not to tarry 
for a few moments rest at a roadside hostelry. This 
rest we gradually prolonged until it was near morning 
before we set out again. Then once more we con 
tinued our route, gradually winding further up the 
mountain, while each moment with greater confidence 
I assured myself of safety. But as the stars paled out 
of the steel-gray sky and the dawn began to appear, 
I saw far down in the valley, and following upon 
our track, a single dark speck. I knew that it must 
be the Carthagenian, too soon awakened and become 
cognizant of our flight; and anon I perceived, by the 



44 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

wild exultant flourish of his shield, that he had de 
tected our figures in bold relief against the white 
snow, and was animating himself to more vigorous 
pursuit. But I said nothing to Ursula about what I 
had seen, and merely pressed on, more rapidly, if 
possible, than before. 

Soon as we ascended a slope of the mountain, I 
could see that our pursuer had already traversed half 
the remaining distance between us, and my heart 
grew sick with fear. The road we were traveling 
led to a village, gaining which, I might feel sure of 
protection; but this village was still many miles 
away, with no intervening cabins; and it was certain 
that before reaching safety, the evening would be 
upon us. There was only one hope of relief; and 
that consisted in the chance of losing ourselves from 
observation in some quiet by-path. This I now re 
solved upon attempting. 

Between the rocks at my left hand was a narrow 
path which, leaving the main road, now passed from 
one mountain slope to the other, crossing, in its pro 
gress, the great Glacier. Down this we sped, until 
we stood upon the Glacier itself, half way to its 
source. Looking back, I could see that our pursuer 
had not been deceived by my divergence from the 
main road, but had himself turned aside, and was 
still vigorously following us. My heart stood al 
most paralyzed, for, now, alas ! there was no further 
way of retreat. The only hope was to press on as 
before and trust to chance. 

Differing from what it was below, the Glacier 
here was rough and broken, the surface at times 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 45 

raised into unsightly hillocks of ice and snow, amidst 
which the path wound deviously, here and there, at 
only a few feet distance, hidden altogether from 
sight. Slowly we picked our way ; and half across 
we found that there had opened a crack or crevasse 
in the surface of the ice, about seven or eight feet 
broad and of unfathomable depth. At the other 
side, the path abruptly terminated, and, owing to 
some alteration in the mountain surface, appeared 
to be altogether lost. Still I pressed on, however, 
anxious for the moment only to reach the other 
side of the crevasse. A loose log lay near, once 
doubtless embedded in the ice. This log I now 
placed across the gap, cautiously we assisted each 
other over to the other side, and there resting, 
there was nothing left for me to do but, as calmly 
as possible, to await the inevitable issue. 

Looking around I noticed that the dawn had al 
ready brightened almost into full daylight, though 
as yet the sun had not risen. Here and there, how 
ever, some of the tallest peaks were already gilded 
with its rays, and swiftly the glorious sheen of light 
was descending along the mountain sides toward the 
valley below. In the East the sky was one sea of 
gold and purple clouds, showing that the sun itself 
was now close at hand, rapidly climbing into sight 
and at any moment might appear. Lighter and 
lighter at each succeeding instant now perceptibly 
grew the shaded valley. I could easily mark the 
distant village where for us there would have been 

O 

safety. At one side and seemingly almost at our 



4C HANNIBAL S MAN. 

feet stood the little hostelry where we had passed 
part of the night, bevond, our own deserted home. 
The whole broad panoi-ama was gorgeous with 
natural beauty. Even I, though so accustomed to it 
and withal so unappreciative, might have delighted 
in it, but for one terrible blemish. This was the dark 
spot which all the while, and as yet unperceived by 
Ursula, was following us as relentlessly as a sleuth 
hound along the path which we had just traversed; 
now seemingly at rest, now disappearing entirely 
from sight behind one of the larger hummocks of 
ice, then again issuing into view and always nearer 
than before ! 

Suddenly, Ursula, lifting her eyes to mine and 
taking me by the hand, broke her long imposed 
silence. 

" Christmas morning at last," she said. " And 
now I know why you have brought me hither. It 
was kindly intended, though it has failed of its pur 
pose, and therefore I thank you for it." 

"And that purpose 

" It was you must not deny it it was to do 
this time that which I have so often asked of you 
to attend with me at the early mass in the convent- 
chapel. But unaccustomed to the path, you have 
missed the way. See ! yonder stands the chapel, 
not so very far away, but that, in the gathering day 
light we can mark nearly every window, every angle 
of the roof, can even count the five little bells that 
hang so motionless in the gable-turret. And look 
again ! Some of the neighboring villagers are 
already climbing the ascent to give the mass their 



47 

presence. Too late for us, though, now, I think. 
We should have taken the right-hand path." 

" Too late, indeed !" I said, with inward groan, as 
I watched the pursuer still nearer than before. 

" But that matters little, after all. For truly, the 
Vespers may make amends, and there is no better 
place than this, with only the grand presence of 
God s nature around us, in which to tell you all that 
I have so long treasured up to say. I have so 
ardently waited for this Christmas morning; and 
now that it has come, I hardly know how or where 
to begin." 

" Speak out freely from your first thought, dear 
Ursula," I answered ; and my heart sank lower than 
ever, as I wondered whether she was about to confess 
to me, as a secret that could not longer be withheld, 
her passion for the Carthagenian. 

" It is this, then," she said. " Months ago but 
where exactly it began, I cannot tell I felt that, 
for your great love for me, you were giving up all 
the promise of your future life. I saw it in your 
abstracted moods when you would seem to pierce 
through the mountain sides and gaze again, in 
imagination, upon your own distant home; I 
knew it from your mutterings in your sleep. Then 
I perceived that your heart was not in these scenes 
about us, that you would have loved to return to 
your own city, and would have cK/ne so, but for one 
thing." 

" And that one thing, dear Ursula ?" I responded, 
dreading to learn how nearly she might have probed 
to the bottom of my suspicious thoughts. 



48 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

" Why, what indeed could that one thing be, 
except that by reason of your love for me, you would 
not take me from these scenes which you thought I 
could best enjoy, having been brought up among 
them ! What, indeed, but that, for my sake, you 
resolved to school yourself to love these mountains 
and forget, as much as possible, your own much 
dearer home? But all the while, had I no love for 
you, that I should make no sacrifice in return? 
Therefore it was in my mind to tell you how cheer 
fully I will depart from here, and go with you 
whithersoever you would. And so I should have 
told you many months ago, but for the coming of 
this Carthagenian." 

" Ah ! The Carthagenian, indeed ! " 

" Then I delayed ; for I saw that in the occupation 
of fathoming the mystery of his appearance and his 
tory, you needed no other pursuit to make you 
happy. And then, too, there came upon me the selfish 
desire to please myself a little in bringing him, if 
possible, into the circle of our own dear Church. 
Therefore, to that intent, I toiled ; finding at first a 
pleasure in it, then a weariness which only my 
sense of duty could help me to support, then 

."But why a weariness, Ursula?" I could not 
resist exclaiming. " Would not the task be a pleas 
ant one, always, with so fair a pupil ? " 

" Fair, do you say ? Yes, now that you recall it, 
he was fair to some extent, though at the time I 
never thought about it. Strong and well formed, 
indeed, yet for all that, it must be said, with little 
soul and intelligence in his face. Possibly, were I 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 49 

like the maidens of this valley, not taught as I have 
been by union with yourself to put my affections 
upon those cultured graces that are higher than any 
mere attractions of the physical frajne, I might have 
learned to admire that barbarian youth ; but not 
now not now. None but yourself I think can ever 
now hold my admiration, much less my love." 

Hearing this, I drew a long breath and could have 
even slain myself for the late cruel suspicions of my 
heart. To atone for all must be the business of my 
future life. And yet, what future life could be des 
tined for me, with that hated pursuer every moment 
drawing closer ? 

" And so at last," she continued, " my probation 
came to an end as the Carthagenian left us, never 
again, I hope, to return. And when he departed, I 
would then have told you all, but that it was within 
a month of this blessed Christmas, and so I thought 
that I would wait. For thus I reasoned. I have 
come to you poor and desolate. This is the season 
for giving gifts ; but what material gift have I that 
I can confer upon you ? And then I said that it was 
in my power, after all, to give you what you might 
value far more than anything else, your freedom 
from this life that now so heavily weighs you down, 
the resumption of those olden pursuits in which your 
heart must be so much interested. Take then, dear 
husband, upon this Christmas morning, and with 
whatever rich treasures of my love I can pour out 
in words, this gift of a newer and more suitable life 
for yourself. I shall never repine at leaving the 
mountains. Let us depart at once unto your own 
5 



50 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

* 

uative city. There, as well as here, I shall bask in 
the sunshine of your love ; and where your love is, 
there will always be my most happy feeling of 
home." 

" Is it a dream ? " I said, for the moment over 
powered by emotion ; forgetting even the present 
peril we were in, and thinking only to gaze enrap 
tured upon her face, so radiant with the divine luster 
of love and truth, and to wonder that I had been 
so blinded hitherto as not to read aright this faithful 
heart. And how blinded had I been^ indeed, not to 
have recognized the certainty that, in the end, even 
my trials would result in good ! For even at that 
instant of supreme joy and forgetfulness of peril, I 
saw how truly the presence of the Carthagenian him 
self had served its friendly purpose. Apart from 
him, indeed, Ursula would none the less have made 
to me, upon this Christmas morning, that priceless 
gift of self-sacrifice and love. And yet, apart from 
the memory of him, how could I, in accepting the 
gift, so completely have crushed out forever all the 
foolish jealousies of my heai t? Still, but for him, 
there might have come, in the newer sphere of action, 
something of the olden dread of other admirations 
stealing her love away from me. But now that this 
glorious statuesque beauty thus freshly arisen as 
from another world had failed to kindle in her heart 
one response or even recognition of its power to 
charm, how could I ever doubt again ? 

" Is it a dream?"! therefore repeated. "Or am 
I indeed awake, and is this a sweet reality? Come 
to my arms, dearest Ursula ; and upon this blessed 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 51 

Christmas morning, let me in turn confess to 
you- 

Yet ere I could speak further in acknowledgment 
of my fault, and tell the bitter story of my late dis 
trust, I was recalled, as by a flash, to the perception 
of our present danger ; for glancing up, I saw our 
dreaded pursuer now clambering over the rugged 
path not fifty feet away. Ursula, also, then saw him, 
and in helpless terror sank slowly from my arms. 

"Yes upon your knees now be it!" I cried, 
" and there pour forth such prayers for our deliver 
ance as never yet you have learned to utter ! " 

And as I spoke, the enemy came still nearer, until 
he stood upon the further side of the chasm and 
faced me. I could see his features aglow with 
demoniac delight at having finally driven us to a 
stand. More than ever, too, did he now seem 
arrayed with glorious beauty of form, as light and 
athletic in shield and helmet, he there confronted 
me. Of that stately beauty, indeed, I could no 
longer hold one jealous feeling; but what hope of 
rescue could I have from that fierce determination 
towards wrong which glared so savagely in every 
feature ? I saw Ursula bowed at my feet in prayer, 
her face turned with reverential instinct towards 
the convent chapel ; but how could prayers or chapel 
aid us there ? As for myself, Avith one vigorous 
motion of the foot, I hurled the log upon which we 
had crossed, deep down into the crevasse ; but how 
could this obstruct one who, with overbearing leap 
across the chasm, could bear down my feeble frame 
before him, as if it were a reed ? 



s 2 HANNIBAL S MAN. 

"Dog of a mountaineer!" he said. "Will you 
surrender her to me ? Or must I come thither and 
wring your base neck before seizing her for my 
own ! " 

" Barbarian whelp ! " with violence, I retorted, 
mustering all of my remaining resolution in support 
of that last torrent of defiance. " If you think that 
she should be yours, then come across and take her." 

He foamed at the mouth with rage at being thus 
addressed ; and, for a moment, gazed around for 
some means of crossing the icy chasm. Finding 
none, he placed his shield and helmet upon the ice, 
retired a few paces, the better to make his leap, and 
then, like the wind bounded forward. 

J ust at that instant, the rising sun peeped aboA r e 
the mountain, and all the bells of the little chapel 
rang out their salutation to the new born Christ 
mas. Was it merely some sudden current of air 
which carried the sound towards us ? And was it a 
mere chance that all the bells now so loudly broke 
forth together? Or, on the other hand, has it been 
mysteriously so ordered for our protection ? I can 
not tell, indeed. I only know that though I had 
often heard the bells in their most lusty peal, I had 
never listened to them as now. Not one bell, 
merely not even two or three ; but the whole five 
bursting out with instant, hurried, tumultuous clash ! 
Not coming to our hearing as from any distance ; 
but in one loud, discordant clanging peal breaking 
in upon our senses, seemingly at our very ears with 
deafening resonance almost overwhelming us with 
the sudden concussion of the metallic blast ! Even 



HANNIBAL S MAN. 53 

in our instant of peril, it struck upon Ursula and 
myself as with vital, material force bearing us 
back helpless with the torrent of sound ! And it 
came upon our enemy like an avenging stroke at the 
very critical poise of his onward leap ; so that con 
fusedly his face turned wildly away, his limbs failed 
in their proper action, and in that supreme moment 
of his need, the full energy of his spring deserted 
him ! 

A moment more and as I gathered my own disor 
dered faculties together, I saw that my foe had fallen, 
with his whole body hanging within the crevasse, 
and supported only by his hands convulsively cling 
ing to the edge. Vigorous as were his writhings, 
there was no hope of extrication. Each instant as 
there he hung, the partially softened ice began to 
break and splinter away beneath his fingers. One 
by one they relaxed. For a second I looked upon 
his face, marked not only with agonized despair, but 
also with baffled hate as he gazed upon me ; and 
above all, I could also note, by the strained back 
ward rolling of his eyes, that the discordant pealing 
of the bells, in that last moment of vain struggling 
for his life, was still overmastering and affrighting 
him. Then his stiffened hands relaxed their 
enfeebled hold, and falling, he passed forever from 
my sight. There was nothing left to tell me that it 
had not been all a dream, except the shield and 
helmet lying motionless at the further side. 

" Down ! Down once more into your icy tomb !" 
I cried, in an ecstasy of relief ; while the bells, 
changing from their first unearthly clamor now broke 
5* 



54 HANNIBAL^S 



into a softly modulated march of triumph. " Lie 
there, once more, for twenty centuries to come ! It 
will not be I, who, at their end, will rescue you from 
your frozen sepulcher and once more warm your 
viper blood into ungrateful action ! " 



And now, once more and ever, all thanks to God, 
for that great and wondrous deliverance from peril 
upon this blessed day ! And let the bells still ring 
their sympathetic peal of joy, for that upon this 
Christmas morn my heart has had its jealous clouds 
thus swept away and thereby gained that richest 
and most priceless gift of perfect peace and surety ! 




CHAPTER J 



AGREEABLY to tell the story of the Hille- 
brandt dream is to repeat, as well, the story 
of the Van Twiller Christmas party. For, though 
the Byvanck letter gives faithful and accurate recital 
of every incident directly appertaining to the dream 
detailing it with such old-time simplicity and 
quaintness as cannot fail to commend it lovingly to 
our regard -yet it must seem, at best, a cold and 
cheerless narrative; needing, to give it proper life 
and interest, the warming and enlivening qualities 
that the description of accompanying festivity can 
alone supply. And inasmuch as in this pleasant 
season of the year, all hearts are turned so longingly 
to whatever whispers thought or circumstance of joy 
and gladness, it may not seem entirely out of place 
that these bright tints of family traditional gaieties 
should now be suffered to weave themselves, at will, 
upon the sober ground-work of formal family record. 
Thereby, perchance, the vary-colored threads of inci 
dent may pass in richer combination through fancy s 



58 IN THREE HEADS. 

loom, and the whole fabric lie at last revealed in 
more harmonious aptness of design. 

The invitations to the Van Twiller Christmas 
party were sent out in goodly season. About the 
middle of September, Gisbort Van Twiller being 
obliged, for the first time in ten years, to make a 
journey down the river, bade solemn farewell to all 
his family and friends, and embarked at Albany 
upon the little sloop Mohawk, commanded by Skip 
per Derrick Roos. Upon that occasion, Gisbort s 
maiden sister Mistress Lysbeth the careful con 
ductor of his household since the lamented decease 
of his wife Elsie taking time by the forelock, 
stuffed his broad-flapped pockets full of ceremonious 
notes to many of the quality of New York, Brook 
lyn and Westchester, requesting their presence at 
the Van Twiller mansion upon the evening of the 
ensuing Christmas. One of these missives was to 
His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor DeLancey, then 
acting Governor of the Colony, others to members 
of his Privy Council and to officers of the army in 
garrison at Fort George, near the Bowling Green; 
arid though it was scarcely to be expected that any of 
these persons could really lend their presence inas 
much as a winter journey to Albany in that year of 
grace 1758 was not a thing lightly to be entered 
upon yet, as Gisbort Van Twiller was a man of 
great note in the Colony by reason of his vast landed 
property, it was felt to be no more than proper that 
he should give to all existing civic and military dig 
nitaries the compliment of an invitation. These 
formal notes were accordingly delivered by Gisbort 



IN THREE HEADS. 59 

ten days after sailing, and were courteously acknowl 
edged in as ceremonious manner by the next upward- 
bound sloop. 

In October, Mistress Lysbeth issued a new series 
of invitations to personal friends and relations along 
the river. There was a cousin Van Twiller, residing 
at Claverack, who had married among the Steen- 
wickes; and, of course, the abundant hospitality of 
the period demanded that both families should be 
called to the supper. There was a half-uncle Van 
Twiller, at Coxsackie, in partnership with one of the 
Osterhouts; and, therefore, of necessity, the Oster- 
houts must be expected. Then there were Steen- 
wickes and Osterhouts who had intermarried, and 
whose descendants, settling upon the manor of 
Livingston, had allied themselves with the Horne- 
beaks; and, as the Hornebeaks thereby became 
cousins, they must, on no account, be excluded. In 
like manner, and for similar reasons, other families 
were expected from Kats Kills and the region 
round about Tappaen; and Captain Derrick Roos, 
duly distributing the invitations as he floated down 
the river, brought back the answers upon his return 
trip. 

In the early part of Xovember Mistress Lysbeth 
sent out her invitations to friends and kindred at 
Kinderhook, Half Moon, Schaatkooke, Schenectady 
and Rensselaer s Wyck ; and in December, sum 
moning her state carriage and two horses, and 
putting the negro driver, Cato, into his newest 
livery, she sallied forth and formally distributed a 
final package of notes among her acquaintances in 



60 IN THREE HEADS. 

Albany itself. This finished that portion of the 
work. None had been forgotten, excepting three 
or four families upon the extreme borders of the 
Colony, who could only be reached by Indian run 
ners, but who, being fourth cousins to the Van 
Twillers, naturally felt aggrieved at the omission, 
and cherished a burning hatred ever afterwards. 
Apart from this, however, everybody of any kinship 
or distinction in the Colony was invited, and felt 
satisfied. It was known, far and wide, that the 
Christmas party was likely to be a great success. 
The Van Twiller mansion, standing upon the prin 
cipal street of the city, was large and so arranged 
as to be capable of entertaining an unusual number 
of guests. Its reputation for lavish hospitality was 
established ; and it became whispered around that 
inasmuch as the party was intended to be such a 
grand affair, it would not begin much before seven, 
and would probably last until after ten. There 
fore there was, naturally, much social excitement 
upon the subject. Few declined who could manage 
to come. The towns along the river turned out an 
unexpected number of acceptances ; and though 
Lieutenant-Governor DeLancey and his Privy Coun 
cil, all, as had been expected, sent regrets, these were 
worded with expressions of sad longing that bore 
the stamp of sincerity. There was now nothing 
left to Mistress Lysbeth but to count the heads and 
prepare the banquet. 

There was only one bitter drop, indeed, in the cup 
of Mistress Lysbeth s satisfaction. It arose from 
the circumstance that the Hillebrandts and their kin 



IN THREE HEADS. bl 

all sent regrets. Most of these lived in Albany 
itself, and one of the most wealthy families of them 
close beside the Van Twiller mansion; and, hence, 
the slight was most keenly felt. But it could 
scarcely have been expected to happen otherwise, 
inasmuch as there had been much disapprobation 
expressed about the matter of young Heybert Hille 
brandt. It was openly asserted that though old 
Gisbort Van Twiller had looked forbiddingly upon 
Heybert, as any man with such a pretty daughter as 
Geretie had a right to do, he had not exercised that 
discretionary power until Heybert had become poor ; 
all friendly countenance having been withdrawn 
only from the moment when it was discovered that 
the Hillebrandt title-papers had been lost, and that 
thereby the squatters could not be driven off 1 . In 
this assertion the Hillebrandts were more than half 
right, for Gisbort was, unquestionably, a prudent 
and calculating father. But there was no doubt 
that they were scarcely justified in imputing a 
crabbed and crafty disposition to Mistress Lysbeth, 
attributing her coincidence in her brother s vie\vs 
more to regard for her social position than for the 
happiness of her niece ; inasmuch as Aunt Lysbeth 
was not without her many good points, and, in look 
ing out for Geretie s advancement, was doubtless 
actuated by kindly motives. Xor was it exactly 
fair to stigmatise Gisbort so harshly for having 
gone to the Hillebrandt sale and there purchased 
the old family cabinet. It was said that, after what 
had passed, he should have stayed away ; but, on 
the other hand, it is difficult to say why, having a 
G 



62 IN THREE HEADS. 

taste for handsome furniture, he, as well as any one 
else, should not have indulged himself. But be that 
as it might, the act had given great offense; and, not 
unlikely, was looked upon as the most crying sin in 
his career, far outweighing his supposed instrumen 
tality in sending Heybert off to die among the 
Indians, or his late marked favoritism of young 
Rollof Van Schoven s pretension to Geretie s hand. 
Therefore, as in duty bound, the Hillebrandts all 
sent regrets, resolving never to enter the house 
where the mahogany cabinet stared them in the 
face. And having intermarried with the Hoge- 
booms, the Hogebooms also decided not to come. 
And the Hogebooms being first cousins to the 
Jansens, the Jansens of course regretted. And 
the Jansens being about to intermarry with the Van 
Tienhovens, the Van Tienhovens staid away, and, 
naturally, persuaded their cousins, the Wyncoopes, 
to do the same. In fact, one and all took especial 
umbrage about the mahogany cabinet ; whereby it 
became necessary that their absence should attest 
their indignation, and a great gulf thereby be left 
unfilled at the Van Twiller Christmas party. 

But, with all this, there was a certain amount 
of counterbalancing comfort. Young Ilollof Van 
Schoven, the new aspirant for the pretty Geretie, 
was very wealthy, and, consequently, by his influ 
ence, led all his kinsmen with him. His oldest 
sister had married into the Swartwouts, and they 
were not more than two degrees removed from the 
Winegaerts. The Winegaerts were first cousins to 
the Schenckes, and they, in turn, were connected, 



IN THREE HEADS. 



(33 



through a half-brother, to the Van Frcdingborcks. 
All these families lived in distant towns, two days 
journey off in summer, and seemingly inaccessible at 
Christmas time. But with due and proper regard to 
the interest of the Van Schovens, they roused them 
selves for a joint effort, there being an indistinct 
half defined, but not the less powerful impression 
among them, that at the Christmas party the engage 
ment of their young kinsman to Geretie Van T wilier 
would be announced, and that it was their duty to 
be on hand at any trouble, to give the affair their 
countenance and approval. Consequently, from 
quarters whence only regrets had been anticipated, 
day after day sloop captains and Indian messengers 
brought in acceptances, upon receipt of each of 
which, Aunt Lysbeth s face became suffused with 
liveliest satisfaction, rejoicing in heart that with the 
coming of all these wide-spread branches, the absence 
of the many disaffected families would be less no 
ticeable. Moreover she pleasantly reflected that 
But what it was that Mistress Lysbeth further 
thought, or how thereupon she acted, it is scarcely 
worth while now to tell. For the Byvanck letter, 
though passingly alluding to the matter of the 
invitations, refrains from all mention of Mistress 
Lysbeth s further views or preparations, apparently 
not deeming them essential in carrying out the 
story of the dream. 



p 



HAPTER 



M-J HE Van Twiller mansion stood in the principal 
v^)> street of Albany city, a little above the Dutch 
Church. It was a stately, double house, having two 
broad projections upon the street, each ending in a 
sharp step-shaped gable, crowned with ornamental 
iron tracery. The date of its erection, 1713, was 
noted in long iron numerals upon the front ; and 
upon a side gable was perched a curiously fashioned 
weather-cock, the pride of the city, inasmuch as it 
was regilded every year. 

Leading back from the wooden stoop was a wide 
hall, dividing the house into two equal parts. One 
of these was occupied by the state parlor, which 
was never opened excepting for such choice occa 
sions as a funeral, christening, or the like. Upon 
the other side was the family sitting-room, of similar 
size. It had three deep windows and twice as many 
doors, leading severally into the hall or closets, or 
other rooms ; and all these doors were so much alike 
that a stranger to the premises, entering heedlessly, 
might find it not easy to get out again. The room 
was furnished with stiff, heavy chairs and tables, 
generally standing close around the wall, and in the 
middle was a small carpet, reaching only within two 
or three feet of the edge. At one end was a broad 
fireplace, calculated for the consumption of great 



IN THREE HEADS. 65 

logs rather than of ordinary sticks, with won- 
drously stout ornamented andirons upon which to 
rest them, a tall brass fender in front, and the 
usual bordering of scripture-illustrating colored tiles. 
Over the fireplace hung a somewhat worm-eaten 
and time-stained portrait, not at all improved by 
successive crude attempts at restoration, and sup 
posed to have once represented Governor A\ r outer 
Van Twiller, the ancestor of the Colonial branch of 
the family. 

Upon the evening before the Christmas party, the 
little family had gathered together in this common 
sitting-room. Xo candles had been brought in as 
yet, but in the deep, wide fireplace a large pile of 
logs was blazing behind the tall brass fender, send 
ing forth a pleasant glow of brightness over half the 
room. In front of the mantle-piece stood Gisbort 
Van Twiller with his back to the fire, daintily toast 
ing the calves of his legs, which being encased in 
close woolen tights, offered little opposition to the 
heat. Pie was in somewhat nervous condition of 
mind, apparently oppressed with the burden of his 
thoughts, judging from the manner in which he 
shifted uneasily from one foot to another, scratched 
gently a gray patcli of hair peeping out from under 
his carelessly adjusted and still grayer wig, then 
plunged his hands as deeply into his wide-flapped 
pockets as the broad cuffs of his coat sleeves would 
allow, and gazed down, meditatively, upon his 
shining silver shoe buckles. In fact, Gisbort, being 
not as easily satisfied as his sister about the ap 
proaching party, was reflecting that the success of 
6*" 



60 IN THREK HEADS. 

" a single evening was not to be weighed against the 
realization of a plan for the happiness of a life 
time; and as it was his desire that Geretie should 
put an end to all discomforting tribulations of her 
heart by accepting young Rollof Van Schoven for 
her future husband, he had furthermore come to the 
opinion of all the Van Schovens, that the Christmas 
gathering should not be brought to an end without 
being signalized by the pleasing announcement of 
the projected alliance. To this purpose he had 
taken every opportunity, of late, to contribute his 
personal advice and persuasions ; and upon this 
evening, believing that a suitable occasion was again 
at hand, began once more to press the matter. 

" A tine young lad, indeed, Geretie, and I wonder 
you can be so blind as not to see it." 

He spoke in a deep, gruff, impatient tone; but 
Geretie was not at all deceived by that. She knew 
that it was not his natural voice, but that he had 
adopted it, with some difficulty, for purposes of argu 
ment, inasmuch as he would not, knowingly, have 
spoken crossly to her for the world. Therefore 
she was not frightened into any response. In addi 
tion to which, the matter had been so often forced 
upon her, that she had at last discovered absolute 
silence to be her wisest policy. In that way her 
father sooner ran out in his expostulations, and 
returned to that tone of kindness which, being most 
natural to him, could not long at any one time be 
laid aside. Moreover, upon this particular evening, 
she was very greatly wearied, having been all day 
laboring at those more delicate preparations for an 



IN THREE HEADS. 67 

entertainment which can never be left to menials, 
but must be attended to by the head of the house! 
So, with her eyes half closed by fatigue, and her 
senses blunted for any kind of contention, she sat, 
listless and immovable, upon a large sofa, drawn 
up at an angle to the fire. Beside her, and in the 
same state of quiet repose, sat her Aunt Lysbeth. 
an ardent partisan of the projected marriage, indeed, 
but now as indisposed as Geretie for any argument 
upon the subject. Therefore it happened that her 
father had all the talk to himself and endeavored 
to improve the opportunity. 

"Not to speak of five hundred acres of the best 
flat land in all the Colony almost a square mile 
of the largest pine timber a stone mill upon the 
Mohawk and a mortgage for 3,000 pounds upon the 
Provorist farm across the river, and soon to be fore 
closed. What better can yon look for, Geretie ? " 

Still, Geretie remained silent. What use in 
advancing over and over again, the same old 
answers she had made so often before ? 

"And next heir to his old Aunt Barbara," con 
tinued her father, assuming gruffer accents than 
ever, as he felt his ability for continued sternness 
gradually breaking down. "You may think, Gere- 
tie, that because she lives in that mean little house 
across the way, being her heir cannot amount to 
much, but you are mistaken. She lives there merely 
because she has become used to it, and does not wish 
to change. She could buy me out any day. She 
owns the Podushook property; and they say she has 
pecks of old Spanish doubloons and chests of family 



68 IN THREE HEADS. 

plate stored away in that musty second-story of hers. 
And it may be, Geretie, that you also think matters 
of property should not be allowed a hearing in such 
an affair as this ; but that is because you are so 
young and foolish. Some day you will know better, 
perhaps when it is too late to know anything about 
it at all. A discreet young damsel will always look 
to these considerations. Your mother did, Geretie. 
Why, bless my soul ! she would never have married 
me at all if I had not been rich. Xot that she did 
not like me well enough, it may be ; but, after all, I 
was not much to look at, even in the best of times, 
and therefore, of course, my money always was the 
most worthy part of me. But she was a sensible 
girl, and you see how she was rewarded for her 
caution by a very happy life." 

Still not a word from Geretie. She sat gazing 
steadily at the picture tiles about the fire-place, 
wondering, possibly, why Jonah was made so little 
smaller than the whale that was about to swallow 
him. Meanwhile her father, awaiting force of new 
inspiration, stooped down and lighted his great 
carved pipe an heirloom which he never allowed 
himself to smoke, excepting when the labors of the 
day were over then, passing before her, slowly 
worked round to the back of the sofa. At that 
point was a chair, seated upon which Gisbort could 
face toward the window, and look out while he 
talked. That, thereby, he was turned away from 
the other two made little difference, inasmuch as he 
sat so near that the backs of all their heads almost 
touched. 



IN THREE HEADS. 69 

"And so, Geretie, you see plainly where your duty 
as well as your real happiness lies," he continued 
blowing- out a preparatory cloud of smoke, and, in 
his growing consciousness of weakness, assuming the 
deep, gruff tones of a channel pilot. "And, as I 
have said before, there can be no objection to Kollof 
Van Schoven for himself, either." 

" No, father; only that he is not Heybert Hille- 
brandt," she responded, worked at last into despera 
tion prompting reply, being resolved to admit noth 
ing in favor of the new lover, wherein comparison 
might be intended. 

"Xo, not Heybert, of course. How in the world 
could he be another person, being himself all the 
while ? Besides which you know very well, Geretie, 
that Heybert Hillebrandt has not been heard of for 
nearly a year, and must be dead by this time." 

" Xo, father, not dead, or else or else he would 
somehow have let me know." 

"Let yon know? And he a dead man?" exclaimed 
the old gentleman, rather startled at the illogical 
assertion. " i hat is nonsense, you must be aware. 
But come, Geretie, dry your eyes ; I shall not say 
any more about it now, at any rate." 

With that, his voice relapsed into all its accus 
tomed tone of kindness. lie had kept up his 
assumption of paternal severity as long as he could 
at any one time, and, for a while, the matter must 
come to an end. And, indeed, he had held out very 
well, considering that he had not had the benefit of 
his sister, Mistress Lysbeth s, support. Hitherto she 
had always come to his assistance, and it was scarcely 



VO I N THREE HEADS. 

the fair thing in her to sit there dozing on the sofa, 
not helping him with a single word. Therefore, 
nothing was more plainly to be seen than that, for 
the moment, the time for importunity and reproof 
was over. Perhaps he was secretly glad of it, not 
being cruelly disposed; not the kind who could shut 
up a daughter in a dark closet, with only bread and 
water, until she might yield to his wishes. His 
sole desire was for her happiness, only that his idea 
was different from hers as to how that happiness 
might best be promoted. With him there could be 
no prosperous marriage for a girl, unless pound was 
weighed against pound, and shilling against shilling; 
and it was with that conviction that now lie pressed 
Rollof Van Schoven s suit, not wishing to act harshly, 
and feeling that he was doing all that could be done, 
if occasionally he threw in a few words of advice 
and wisdom. It was the continual dropping that he 
believed might wear away a stone, though he felt 
vastly dissatisfied that the stone presented such a 
granite-like texture. Now, however, he had thrown 
down one more drop; and, with the smoke of his 
pipe comfortably curling around his old nose and 
predisposing his nature to quiet, could well afford, 
for the time, to suspend the vexed controversy. 
Accordingly he placed his feet cosily upon another 
chair, and, la/ily drawing in the blue smoke, sur 
veyed the scene outside. 

First he gazed, meditatively, upon the little single 
gable house of old Mistress Barbara Van Schoven, 
directly across the way. There was a light in the 
second story, and behind the shade the figure of a 



IN THREE HEADS. 71 

moving body. Mistress Barbara, of course ; and 
Gisbort s lively fancy depicted her in the act of 
poring over her many chests of old silver and her 
bags of Spanish doubloons, all of which Geretie 
could so easily obtain if she would only so make up 
her mind. Then, turning from this subject of con 
templation, he made observation of the weather. 
It was snowing hard, but that should make no 
difference in the Christmas party. Rather would 
it promote its success ; for there had been much 
want of snow, lately, and it was well understood 
that Christmas always lacked half its enjoyment 
when there happened not to be good sleighing. A 
goodly depth of snow would v make no difference in 
the coining of the city guests, and many of those 
who were expected from the country were known 
to have already arrived. Of others, the snow would 
facilitate the arrival, provided the wind did not 
arise to blow up drifts, and provided, also, that the 
fall was not too heavy. And there was no wind, 
at present. The flakes fell softly and gently, each 
in its proper place. Free from disturbance, the 
snow lay as evenly disposed upon steep roof and 
picket fence as upon the level ground ; no irregu 
larity visible in the horizontal lines of pure white 
ness that adorned the step-like gables of each 
neighbor s house. Then, as to the continuance of 

C 

the snow lo ! while Gisbort gazed, there came a 
broken rift in the dark mass of clouds overhead, 
through which the full moon shot a penetrating 
gleam, and it became evident that the storm was 
over By the next evening the snow would be 



72 IN THREE HEADS. 

trampled down evenly on street and road, making 
the sleighing all that could be desired. A pleasant 
smile of satisfaction stole over Gisbort s grim fea 
tures ; his lips relaxed around the mouth-piece of 
his pipe ; the smoke died softly away ; his head 
fell just a trifle further back, and he passed into 
refreshing slumber. 

Upon the large sofa behind him, Aunt Lysbeth 
had already succumbed to the fatigues of the day, 
and now slept daintily, with her head poised upon 
Geretie s shoulder. Geretie herself was still wide 
awake, constrained thereto by her troubled state of 
thought, and sat gazing listlessly before her. Past 
the big log fire, which^leaped and crackled upward 
to the broad chimney, casting out flickering forks 
of light, making the noses of Jonah and of Noah 
upon the picture tiles seem very ruddy at times; 
past the tall carved clock which mendaciously indi 
cated a new moon when it was shining full outside; 
or gazing into the great hall beyond. A broad 
wainscoted hall, almost as wide as any of the 
rooms, and hence furnished almost like one of the 
parlors. At one side, a broad stairway, with carved 
mahogany bannisters, ran zigzagging to the upper 
story; at the other side stood the old carved Hille- 
brandt cabinet, a heavy, clumsily built piece of 
furniture with grotesquely sculptured panels and 
large brass hanging handles to all the drawers, and 
quaint scutcheons to the doors, and a twenty-ribbed 
projection at the top, seemingly sufficient for the 
cornice of a goodly sized house. And opposite the 
cabinet was the door into the principal parlor, now, 



IN THREE HEADS. 73 

as usual, tightly closed, and not to be thrown open 
to the public gaze before the morrow evening. 

Across from the parlor door and beside the cab 
inet was another door leading to a range of closets, 
and thence into the kitchen. The doors at either 
end of this passage were now open, and Geretie 
could look through to the end, not altogether dis 
tinctly, indeed, for the evening gloom was upon 
everything ; but in the kitchen were two tallow 
candles sputtering in their sockets, and by their 
thus unnaturally increased brightness, Geretie could 
distinguish much that otherwise would have been 
hidden. The long table at the side of the kitchen, 
now heaped up with mince and pumpkin pies as it 
had never been heaped up before ; the piles of ole- 
kocks arranged like cannon balls upon bases of ten 
or twelve square, built up thence to a single one 
at top, and giving the table the appearance of a 
distant arsenal yard ; the hundreds of New Year 
cakes, stamped with the figure of King George r 
holding a crown and sceptre, and all packed away 
in close layers like shingles ; the kegs of oysters 
brought up from Xew York, at great expense, in 
the boot of the weekly stage, and now arranged 
beneath the table; the hams hanging from the ceil 
ing, and the legs of venison and dozens of wild 
ducks and partridges disposed around the walls on 
hooks all these and many other preparations for 
the coming supper were made manifest to Geretie s 
listless gaze by the forced brilliancy of those two 
sputtering candles. At one side of the kitchen, 
and fast asleep in utter exhaustion from the labors 



74 IN THBEJH HEADS. 

of the day, sat the old negro cook, Chloe, with a 
long pewter ladle still clasped in her relaxed hand 
the unsurrendered emblem of authority her big 
round face disposed so exactly in front of a great 
white platter, standing on end against the dresser, 
that its blue border seemed like a saintly aureola 
around her head. At either side, and crouched 
upon the floor, and not the least bit in the world 
asleep or sleepy, were her two coal-black grand 
children, Tak and Rak, engaged in a pleasing game 
of their own invention. In front of each was a 
small pile of chestnuts, and the two urchins were 
tossing to and fro what at first sight seemed to be 
a black ball. It was not a ball but a hard apple 
better to them than any ball, in fact, inasmuch as it 
would serve all the purposes of one, and moreover 
was, in its nature, so suggestive of gastronomic joy. 
Each of these little imps, upon throwing the apple, 
endeavored to make it bound upon their venerable 
grandmother s head ; whereat, not in the least 
awaking, she would start up mechanically and rap 
one or other of her tormentors with her pewter 
spoon, then fall back again into her olden attitude. 
And whichever of the two happened to be attacked 
with the spoon was considered to have lost, and 
paid a portion of his chestnuts to the other. 

For a few moments Geretie watched this pleasant 
sport. Then the sputtering candle-wicks falling 
left all in darkness, and put an end to the game. 
With that Geretie s thoughts were naturally driven 
in upon herself; and she looked back at the past 
rather than upon the present, and recalled, for the 



IN THREE HEADS. 75 

thousandth time, the last interview with Heybert 
Hillcbrandt. It was after the ruin of his fortune 
seemed to have been completed, and her father had 
discouraged his suit, and Heybert had made up his 
mind that there was nothing better to be done than 
to seek his fortune at some other place ; for he could 
not remain in that scene of his olden prosperity 
and basely delve with spade, while somewhere else 
there might still be lurking in hi s favor a happy 
chance. Even if he donned a hunter s dress, some 
unexpected favor of fortune might ensue. There 
fore he had parted from her secretly and lovingly, 
and she had vowed to be true to him forevermore. 
He had placed upon her finger a ring, which she 
dared not wear openly or even show, but kept locked 
up in her private desk; though every night, when 
she had shut herself within her room, she put the 
ring upon her finger and so went to sleep, very often, 
in consequence, dreaming of Heybert half the night. 
And she had given him a i % ing which he had openly 
put upon his finger, and vowed that he would take 
it off only upon one occasion. This would be when 
he should have succeeded in whatever he might have 
undertaken ; and then he would send the ring back 
to her, through some trusty friend, as a token that 
he was coining himself, at last, to claim it and her 
fair hand as well. But alas ! two years had already 
passed, and the ring had not yet been returned. 
During the first year she had heard of Heybert as 
living a trapper s life among the Hurons, at times 
almost in savage destitution. After that, all track 
of him seemed to have been lost. It had been said 



76 IN THREE HEADS. 

that he must be dead ; could it be really so ? But 
she refused to believe it. With the old illogical 
faith, it seemed to her that if Heybert had ceased to 
be, somehow the cruel news would be borne in 
upon her. 

Gradually with the darkness and the monotony 
of that olden ceaseless round of thought, and per 
haps, also, of the slow, measured breathings of her 
father just behind and her aunt reclining toward 
her, she fell into a gentle doze herself, and thence 
into sound sleep. And, sleeping, she dreamed, 
though not about Heybert Hillebrandt. It might 
have been expected, indeed, that she would do so. 
Nothing more natural in theory, than that if one 
glides off into slumber with a prevailing thought 
coursing through his brain, the same thought will 
follow him in dreams, or, at the least, will color such 
dreams as he may otherwise have. But there is 
nothing more unusual in fact. Fancy plays strange 
pranks with our comprehensive powers; and, in the 
process from wakefulness to sleeping, not merely the 
person and scene will often suffer unanticipated 
changes, but the tone of mind as well. 

Consequently, though by just right it seemed as 
though Gerctie, falling asleep with Heybert s last 
words of love in her memory, and his name upon 
her lips, should have had visions only of him seeing 
him as so often hitherto, either as when he had 
parted from her, or, as he had been pictured, ragged 
and worn among the Indians the scene changed 
suddenly in all its elements. Instead of groves or 
camp fires there was a tenantless room, in which, for 
the moment, she stood alone. For a moment only, 



IN THREE HEADS. 77 

indeed, and then there entered, not Heybert, smooth- 
cheeked and flushed with the wished for success, 
but a strange, wrinkled, awe-producing old man 
whom she had never hitherto seen: a tall old man 
with heavy beard and full shaggy eyebrows, grayer 
even than the gray locks that hung in somewhat 
untidy straggling array over his broad white turned 
down tassel-fastened collar. Clad in a suit of coarse 
homespun, with something of a military cut about 
the folded-over sleeves, well adapted, indeed, to the 
shining steel breast-plate covering his chest, and the 
clumsy basket-hilted sword that was buckled to his 
side. This strange old man entering produced, at 
first, a feeling of terror, so different was he from 
any one whom she had ever seen before so pecul 
iarly fixed and unbending was his grim expression. 
But as he slowly paced the room toward her, though 
the stolidity and grimness of his features did not 
alter, it seemed as if there was a not unfriendly 
look in the quiet gaze he fixed upon her, an expres 
sion of personal approval, even, vastly reassuring 
her. So advancing within a foot of her he stopped, 
fastened his eyes upon her with the same steady 
but kindly gaze seeming to warm into something 
almost paternal in its gathering softness then 
thrust his arm deep within his breast, behind the 
steel breast-plate. 

And this is where earliest we come across the 
dream; gathering from the Byvanck letter which, 
herein, is especially minute in its description of time 
and place arid circumstance how, for a single 
moment, the dream came down and fluttered in the 
bewildered brain of pretty Geretie. 



CHAPTER III, 

,OR a moment only. What the old man might 
have further done, Geretie could not tell; for, 
at that instant, there came a knock at the front 
door, and with a start she awoke. The same rap 
awakened, also, her father and Aunt Lysbeth. Each 
gave a little start backward, and it naturally hap 
pened that, in so doing, the heads of all three 
thumped together. No damage was done thereby, 
except that as Gisbort s wig had fallen a little awry 
during his slumber, leaving a bald spot on his head 
exposed to the air and Aunt Lysbeth s high metal 
comb now chanced to strike him exactly upon that 
place, there resulted to him a somewhat severe con 
tusion. But wisely making no remark, he carefully 
replaced the wig, and the three awakened sleepers 
gazed for a moment abstractedly at each other, the 
mutual thumping of heads having effectually aroused 
them upon the instant. 

" It must be Kollof Van Schoven who knocked," 
remarked Gisbort, breaking the silence and speaking 
with a kind of guilty consciousness that he could 
not altogether disguise. " I told him that is, he 
said it was possible he might drop in this evening. 
It is getting very dark; why does not some one 
bring candles ? And why is not the door opened ? 
It is singular that, with so many servants in the 



IN THREE HEADS. 79 

house, no one is found to answer the door. All 
asleep, I suppose; though why any one should want 
to sleep in the day time Lysbeth, do you get 
lights, and I will open the door myself, so as not to 
keep Rollof waiting." 

Mistress Lysbeth hurried to the kitchen to procure 
alight a candlestick in each hand and Gisbort 
groped his way into the hall. He was only par 
tially at ease, indeed, having a guilty feeling that 
he had too heedlessly betrayed his participation in 
the projected visit, and thereby might be brought 
under filial discipline. True, he had done nothing 
more than tell Rollof that he could come across 
upon that evening if so it pleased him, and Rollof 
had merely said that he would not fail. But much 
can be implied in very few words; and Gisbort felt 
that somehow, without half intending it, an under 
standing of parental consent had lurked behind the 
invitation, and that Geretie, deciphering the same, 
would not be slow to manifest resentment. Then 
he wondered whether Rollof might not be feeling 
still more discomposed ; for, in the opinion of Gis 
bort Van Twiller, it was not an easy thing to make 
a formal visit with the intent of offering matrimo 
nial alliance. At least it had not been easy for him, 
thirty years before, when he had made assault upon 
the heart of his Elsie; and even then he had been 
able to bide his time until the way seemed laid open 
to him at a Pinxter festival. But here was Rollof, 
coming in cold blood as it were, in fulfillment of a 
kind of tacit understanding engaged for the task, 
however unpropitious might be the circumstances. 



80 IN THREE HEADS. 

At the very thought of it, the perspiration broke out 
upon Gisbort s face as though he were the victim; 
and, as he opened the door, he half expected to let 
in a timid, crouching broken-down figure begging 
for respite. 

He was a little relieved, as well as surprised, to 
see that Rollof appeared not at all embarrassed. 
Dressed with such scrupulous care as must, of itself, 
almost have declared the intent of his coming in 
fact, it was Rollof making his toilet, and not the 
old lady counting her doubloons, whom Gisbort had 
seen behind the curtain he stood erect and com 
posed, and even with a tranquil smile upon his lips. 
Little reason, indeed, could the host but know it, 
why Rollof should not be at his ease, having his 
heart so thoroughly fortified with the power of one 
newly formed purpose. 

Following his host into the sitting-room, and 
reaching it just as Mistress Lysbeth came in from 
another door, bearing before her two tall lighted 
candles in still taller candlesticks, Rollof gave hasty 
glance forward, and saw Geretie arisen from the 
sofa and making ceremonious courtesy. In her face 
was no sign or gleam of welcome, however; only a 
cold, fixed, impassive smile. For, as her father had 
suspected, Geretie had noticed the accidental admis 
sion that Rollof had been invited thither, and there 
upon she had at once shut up all her kindly sym 
pathy; in her fancy carrying her thoughts much 
further than she ought, and wrongly imagining that 
her hand had been especial subject of mention be 
tween the two, and the important interview planned 



IN THREE HEADS 81 

with deliberate forethought. Therefore she felt that 
less now, than ever before, would she tolerate it ; 
and sitting down once more, with her face steadily 
turned toward the blaze of the fire, she relapsed 
into the silence and immobility of a marble statue. 
Kollof sat opposite, and gaziug stealthily into her 
rigid countenance, felt that, had he been now dis 
posed to tempt his fate, he could easily there read 
his doom, needing not words in explanation of it. 
A fixed and somewhat melancholy smile came over 
his own face ; and, turning, he gazed around at 
Gisbort and Mistress Lysbeth. They had taken 
their places at either side of him, and there sat 
motionless ; each so absorbed in separate train of 
thought as to forget offering even the customary 
commonplace greetings of the evening. With Gis 
bort was the satisfactory conviction that Geretie 
herself would not now fail to mark the courage and 
self-possession of Rollof, and so, at last, be favor 
ably impressed by him; with Mistress Lysbeth, on 
the contrary, was full perception of Geretie s for 
bidding manner and Kollof s strange, fixed smile, 
together awakening in her a distracting instinct of 
something having gone wrong. Such dreadful 
silence broken only by a few distinct sounds 
that did not fill the void, but merely made more 
noticeable the need of relief elsewhere. The shout 
of passing boy in the street outside; the snapping 
of the blazing logs; the measured ticking of the 
tall clock neither of these weighed any tiling 
against the terrible stillness. So for a moment; 
and then Rollof himself made bold to break the 



IN THREE HEADS. 

silence. And it seemed fortunate, indeed, that he 
had something worthy to be told and need not deal 
in commonplaces. An hour before, he had met a 
scout from the upper regions of the Colony, and 
the man had given him much information that it 
might be pleasing for others to hear. Therefore, 
Rollof, crossing his dainty silk stockings, and hang 
ing his natty little cocked hat over his knee, plunged 
at once into his subject. 

It had so far been a mild winter at the north, so 
the scout had told him, and, consequently, there 
had been little difficulty in gathering supplies for the 
garrisons of the outposts. There had been a few 
skirmishes with small marauding parties of French 
and Indians, but with little important result. Upon 
the border, an outlying fortification had been at 
tacked by a large Indian force, but it had been 
beaten back, with a loss of many killed, and no 
damage of consequence to the defense. In other 
directions, also, the Indians had been troublesome, 
occasionally co-operating with the French in the 
established war, and again indulging in acts of 
cruelty and rapine for their own amusement. A 
family of whites had been slaughtered on the bor 
ders of Lake Champlain; and among the Hurons, a 
white prisoner had been taken, and tortured for 
two days. Here Geretie, losing for the moment her 
impassive immobility, looked up with a pale face; 
and Ilollof, still with that sad smile, hastened to 
add that the victim was an old, worn-out trapper, 
and by that timely correction gained from her one 
flickering glance of gratitude. And in every direc- 



IN THREE HEADS. 



83 



tion praise God, for the great mercy the war 
against the French was going on well, and with 
increasing advantage to the English arras. It was 
even said but at that hour the report had not 
been verified that Cape Breton had already sur 
rendered to the joint attack of General Amherst 
and Admiral Boscawen. If this were true, it was a 
great triumph ; and with its moral as well as physi 
cal effect, might, ere long, lead to the capture of 
Quebec itself. It was to be hoped that the tidings 
would soon be verified ; and if so, it would make 
this Christmas a most joyful one to the Colonies of 
His Britannic Majesty. 

Reaching this grand climax of his news, Rollof 
looked around to mark how his hearers received it ; 
but, to his surprise, observed, that while he had 
been speaking, his host, who should certainly have 
been sufficiently interested to wait until the end, 
had quietly slipped out of the room. And while 
Rollof wondered at this, Mistress Lysbeth also, 
affecting to hear a call from old Chloe, arose and 
made an awkward retreat. The object of this could 
not now be misunderstood. He had purposely been 
left alone with Geretie, in order that he might take 
the opportunity to make his intended avowal. Look 
ing across at Geretie, he could see by the increased 
fixedness and determination of her expression, that 
she, also, had well comprehended the enforced situ 
ation, and was nerving herself to meet it with all a 
mortified woman s resentment. That look upon her 
face was not needed, indeed, to assure him that she 
was no consenting party to the proceeding; but, 



84 IN THREE HEADS. 

nevertheless, had his intentions been different from 
what they were, it would have sunk crushingly into 
his heart, already so heavily laden with warnings of 
ill success. Possibly he would even have retired 
without another word, rather than advance to such 
well-assured discomfiture. But now, on the con 
trary, he remained ; for a moment longer sitting 
silent, the yell of street boy sounding in his ear like 
a battle cry, and the monotonous tick of the clock 
like the thump of sledge-hammer. Then rising 
with hurried determination, he strode once up and 
down the room, and pausing, stood before her. 

" I hardly know how to say it, Geretie," he began. 
" I had meant, upon my coming hither, to offer you 
my hand. Xow well now, I have no longer a 
thought of it." 

Geretie looked up wonderingly at him. Certainly 
this was singular language. She had made up her 
mind, of course, that she would listen to no love 
tales from him; and yet to be thus quietly given to 
understand 

" Strange talk from me, Geretie, is it not ? " he 
continued. " It is not that I would prefer to have 
it so, indeed ; not but that I would have asked for 
your love if I thought there was any hope of gain 
ing it. It is simply that something which has come 
to me to-day has assured me how hopeless it is to 
think of that. And so 

As Geretie listened, and, with intuitive percep 
tion, gained comprehension of what he was so pain 
fully endeavoring to explain, a bright, cheery smile 



IN THREE HEADS. 85 

broke forth in her face the cheeriness of relief 
from long continued apprehension. 

" But this is not what my father and Aunt Lys- 
beth expected you to say to me, is it, Rollof ? " she 
interrupted with a rippling laugh. 

" No, Geretie. Nor what my Aunt Barbara ex 
pected. Nor what the Swartwouts, and the .Wine- 
gaerts, and the Fredingborcks expected ; who all, 
somehow, seem to think they have something to say 
about it. Nor myself, who am more interested than 
any of them, I believe ; and who would gladly have 
had matters otherwise if I could. But you see, 
Geretie, it has become easy for me to learn that what 
I so much desired can never be. And, therefore, I 
have asked myself what was best to do? Should 
I struggle in vain, and make my coming always an 
annoyance to you, and stand in your presence a 
baffled, disconsolate lover ? Or should I pluck up 
a brave heart, resign my hopes, and try in some 
other way to remain your friend?" 

" Pluck up the brave heart, Rollof," she answered, 
the pleasantest smile she had known for weeks now 
beaming upon her face. It was so comforting to 
her soul to know that the ordeal she had so long 
dreaded had thus sensibly passed over, and that she 
had gained a friend instead of lost an admirer. 
" And now sit down beside me, Rollof, and tell me 
further what all this means." 

So he sat down upon the sofa with his back to the 
window, through which, at that very moment, his 
Aunt Barbara was ineffectually endeavoring to peer 
across from the seclusion of her parlor opposite. 



86 IN THREE HEADS. 

She had noted the direction of his going out, and 
was now anxiously looking for further develop 
ments. To her, also, had come the comfortable con 
viction that this was the important evening; and it 
was hard for her to convince herself that, with clear 
eye-sight so very necessary, she could not see dis 
tinctly, through her spectacles and two small-paned 
windows and across a wide street. In vain she 
sighed and alternately wiped her spectacles and 
window panes; she felt, at last, that, for any defi 
nite information, she must patiently await Rollof e 
return. Gisbort here Aunt Barbara there other 
Van Schovens and their collaterals, everywhere 
all eagerly anticipating tidings of the projected 
alliance ; and here was Rollof, in utter disregard of 
their wishes, and as though he were the only party 
concerned, quietly baffling their expectations. For 
he told Geretie how that, for a long time, he had 
realized the vanity of his hopes, and many times 
already had been inclined to abandon the struggle; 
and how that, taking sober counsel with himself, he 
had at last resolved to act the manly part, giving 
her the acceptable Christmas offering of freedom 
from future persecution on his behalf, and asking in 
return the most precious gift of her sisterly friend 
ship. Little by little, as he proceeded, Rollof felt 
his utterance, as well as manner of explanation, more 
easy perhaps having actually been less interested 
in the affair than he had previously imagined and, 
in the end, Geretie and he became quite composed, 
and even inclined to look upon the matter with 
something of philosophic spirit. 



IN THREE HEADS. 8 7 

"But you said, Roll of, that your determination 
about about the hopelessness of all this, you 
know, came partly from something you have heard 
to-day. Was it about Heybert ? It may not seem 
quite right for me to talk about him; and yet there 
can be no use concealing from you, at least, an 
interest that everybody else seems to understand. 
Yes, there is really something about him in your 
mind," she continued, with sudden impulse of a 
quickened instinct; "something that perhaps you 
would like to tell me, and yet feel that you should 
withhold! What is it, Rollof? And why, if you 
must not speak, have you said so much already ? Tell 
me everything now; that only is the part of a true 
friend." 

" It is not much, Geretie," he answered, after a 
moment s pause, not wishing to excite false hope; 
yet feeling that since, witli woman s quickness, she 
had divined so much, it might do no harm to 
brighten her life a little with anticipation of good 
that might possibly happen. " Not much, indeed, 
only that to-day, from the scout, I heard something; 
though, after all, I had better not now tell you 
what it was, for it may turn out untrue. If it is 
true, it is good news so much I can venture to 
say; but, if false, then it will be as you have hinted, 
that I had better have told you nothing at all, and 
have left you in ignorance from the very first. 
Trust me, Geretie, for now acting as seems most 
wise. If you would know something of what I 
mean, I will tell you to remember that courage and 
perseverance some times find a position in which to 



88 IN THREE HEADS. 

reap their reward, and therefore But wait, again 
I say; for, after all, it may be false report." 

" I will wait as you direct ! " Geretie exclai med, 
" for I know that when the proper time arrives, you 
will tell me all. But even now I will not believe 
that any part of it is not true. I have waited too long- 
already, that fate should not prove kind to me at 
last. You need tell me nothing more, Rollof, for I 
can feel it all. It means that Heybert is indeed 
coming back to me ! That all I have endured and 
suffered is to pass away forever to be no more 
remembered, except it may be as we recall a fright 
ful dream ! " 

The time-eaten portrait of old Governor Van 
Twiller shook a little to and fro as she spoke ; but 
that was only the wind, nor could it matter how the 
dead might think or act. It was the living Van 
Twillers who were concerned; and, if Gisbort could 
have listened to the late conversation, how would 
he have shaken with disgust and anger of Rollof, at 
having thrown away an opportunity so carefully 
prepared for him. But Gisbort was far out of hear 
ing, standing upon his front stoop ankle deep in 
snow. He had gone thither inconsiderately, in his 
transparent pretense of household business else 
where; the door had blown to behind him, and he 
was now afraid to demand readmission lest his 
knock might be mistaken for that of new visitors, 
and thereby endanger the continuance of the all- 
important interview. lie would wait outside, there 
fore, and endure the cold and snow until Rollof 
might appear to receive his congratulations and con- 



IN THREE HEADS. 89 

sent, and, if need be, his blessing. But Mistress 
Lysbetb, witb better self-possession, had employed 
her time skirmishing to and fro between hall and 
kitchen; now rousing up Chloe to impossible tasks, 
then looking into closets for articles that she knew 
to be elsewhere, again returning to the hall and tak 
ing furtive peeps into the sitting-room. Now, seeing 
that Kollof and Geretie were sitting close together 

O 3 

upon the sofa, smiling pleasantly upon each other, 
she could not fail to feel assured that her late dis 
couragement had proved ill founded, and that true 
love had gained, at last, its successful termination. 
This happy conviction now irradiated all her fea 
tures, destroyed her customary equipoise, and made 
her garrulous with exuberance of delight. 

" Why talk about dreams ? And what frightful 
dream have you ever had, Geretie?" she said, com 
ing in with a little warning cough, and indistinctly 
catching the last few words. " Never trouble your 
self about such vain things as dreams, Geretie, for 
they mean nothing. Do I not know, myself? The 
pleasantest dreams one can have about flowers 
and fairies, it may be will often come before a 
death; and many a time I have dreamed frightful 
things, and had them followed by good news. Even 
as now, indeed," she continued, wagging her head 
archly, and with much significance of meaning, " for 
who would have thought that good things were 
about to happen, when, so little while ago, I dreamed 
about a horrid rough old man?" 

"An old man, Aunt Lysbeth ? " 

" Yes ; not an hour ago, when your father so 
8* 



90 IN THREE HEADS. 

rudely waked me up by knocking his head against 
mine, sending my comb, I verily believe, almost half 
an inch into my brain. A queer old man it was that 
came to me, frightening me almost to death with his 
terrible eyebrows and his great tangled beard. It 
almost seems as though I saw him yet. He had an 
iron breast-plate in front of him, and wore a clumsy 
old sword with hilt as large as one s two fists. I 
remember thinking, at the time, that it was a strange 
costume to wear in the presence of a lady; though, 
doubtless, " 

" Tell me, aunt," cried Geretie, becoming sud 
denly interested, " did this old man walk into the 
room, and come close to you, and put his hand into 
his bosom behind the breast-plate, and " 

"No, he did nothing of the kind, Geretie. He 
did not come into the room whatever room it was 
for I found him there already; and so I suppose 
he came there first. And he had his hand behind 
his breast-plate when I first saw him. But, as I 
looked, he pulled it out, and there was something 
like a roll of parchment in his hand, and" 

"And what then, Aunt Lysbeth?" 

" Why then your father thumped me, and I woke 
up; but, for the moment after, I was quite frightened, 
thinking that I saw the cross old man still standing 
before me. And therefore, Geretie," she continued, 
again wagging her head with arch meaning, " do not 
trouble yourself about your dreams, even if they are 
frightful ; seeing that, as in my case, they may all 
the same be followed by something just as pleasant 
the other way." 



IN THREE HEADS. 91 

And so it was that, in due sequence, the dream 
came also to Mistress Lysbeth. The knowledge of 
which fact, however, might never have transpired, 
but for this visit of Rollof Van Schoven; inasmuch 
as according to the Byvanck letter Mistress 
Lysbeth was always so wrapped up in matters of 
household economy and care, that it was more than 
likely that, at the very next hour, she would have 
forgotten all about the dream. 

O 




LH AFTER 



UT Geretie, however startled at the time, <rave 

k O 

the matter little thought, when, somewhat 
later, she retired for the night. What though two 
persons had dreamed about one and the same queer, 
cross old man ? Was not this a matter of mere 
chance coincidence that could not fail to happen 
often, did we but know it ? Nay, the very depart 
ure from absolute similarity in the dreams was a 
mark of imperfection; while, surely, nothing what 
soever seemed likely to come of it. Therefore, dis 
missing the matter from her mind, she put on her 
ring, and surrendered herself to the influence of 
brighter visions dreaming, as so often before, of 
Heybert. How that, as had been so pleasantly 
hinted to her, his trials all were over, and how that 
he must already be coming back. Mingling him, in 
her fancies, with much that Avas unreal and grotesque 
indeed ; as when the painted tiles about the fire 
place obtruding themselves, she dreamed that he 
was coming back in the guise of the prodigal son, 
bringing his own fatted calf with him to insure his 
welcome; and that, thereupon, Shadrach, Meshach 
and Abed-nego came forth to meet him, singing joy 
ful congratulatory anthems. But, throughout all, 
there was the one real perception that Heybert must 
be coming back. 



IN THREE HEADS. 93 

The song of the three fire-tried youths still sounded 
in her ears when she awoke. But little by little it 
resolved itself into anything else than ancient can 
ticle, and intoned by any other than Babylonian 
voices; for, as her perceptions grew more collected, 
she recognized the well-attuned notes of a choir of 
little negroes, singing a Christmas anthem from 
door to door. Thus cheerily reminded of the day, 
Geretie sprang from her bed and hurried to the door, 
outside of which hung her stocking; for she was 
not yet so far advanced in years as to have grown 
out of her childish pleasure in exploring the Christ 
inas stocking, and developing its delightful mys 
teries. Then springing back into bed with the 
laden treasure, excitedly she drew forth one and 
another closely folded paper, laying them in line 
upon the coverlet before her. The pin-cushion, so 
long being made by old Chloe, and so often hidden 
hastily beneath a saucepan when Geretie had chanced 
to enter the kitchen; the gold chain and locket from 
Aunt Lysbeth ; the ten commandments carved by 
Rak and Tak upon two conch shells, and the fox- 
skin purse from Cato; the promised gold watch from 
her father all these at last lay spread out before 
her. Nothing so small as to be despised, so faithful 
and warm-hearted was its giver, everything wel 
comed with almost equal delight, for the true affec 
tion that had prompted its bestowal. With her 
hands thrown upon the pillow behind her, and sup 
porting her head, Geretie lay back for a moment or 
two, and tried adequately to realize how happy she 
ought to be, surrounded by this wealth of sweet 



94 IN THREE HEADS. 

regard. And how supremely blissful would she 
now be, if she could only hear from Heybert ! Was 
Heybert where he, too, could hang out his Christinas 
stocking ? Was he where he could boast any stock 
ing to put out at all ? She smiled to herself as she 
pictured him among the Hurons, hanging outside 
his wigwam a beaded moccasin as the best substi 
tute for a stocking, to find in it the next morning, 
perchance, a scalp-bracelet or bear s-tooth necklace; 
enjoying her fancy the more heartily as she felt 
assured that it had no basis of cruel fact. For had 
not Rollof talked about preferment having come to 
Heybert, and predicted his return ? This was the 
cheery idea that now underlined her whole tone of 
thought. 

Newer sounds now arising from the street below, 
Geretie arose, gently drew her curtain and looked 
out. A bright sun was shining; the promise of the 
previous evening having been fulfilled in a clear, 
sparkling day. As her father had surmised, the snow 
had fallen gently and unobtrusively, making little 
chance of obstruction through drifts. It lay on 
roadway and fence and gable with uniform depth, 
so evenly fallen that it seemed as though fairy hands 
must have followed each flake in its quiet descent, 
and fastened it securely in place. How otherwise, 
indeed, could it be that the thick covering lay so 
motionless upon the steep roofs of the little church 
below, and upon the sharp gables of Aunt Barbara s 
house opposite? How otherwise could the flakes 
cling so firmly upon the insecure resting-place of the 



IN THREE HEADS. 95 

iron numerals upon the front, marking out the date 
in such clear bright lines ? 

In the middle of the street stood a row of market 
sledges from the country with beef and poultry. 
The owners haggled over their sales as usual; and 
yet it seemed as though their discussions were more 
good natured than at any other time, so genial was 
the influence of the day. Down the street from the 
fort two officers, tucked up in bear skins, drove along 
in their open sleigh; and, as they passed the Van 
Twiller mansion, a little negro took courage and 
threw a snowball at them. Thereupon it might be 
supposed that these insulted sons of Mars would de 
scend, draw their glittering blades, run the offender 
through the body, wipe their reeking weapons upon 
the bear skin robes, and drive off with pleasant 
sense of vengeance satisfied. Instead, thereof, they 
arrested the sleigh for only a moment; and one of 
them reaching over gathered up a hard snowball, 
with which, taking correct aim, he hit the aggressor 
so plumply in the center of the stomach as to knock 
him over. Then they rode on again laughing, the 
very bells upon the horses seeming to turn their 
silver tinkle into a "Merry Christmas;" and the 
little negro rising unharmed and appearing rather 
gratified at the encounter, laughed in turn even still 
more hilariously. So did the pleasant inspiration of 
the Christmas morning brighten up every heart with 
charity. 

At the door of the opposite house suddenly ap 
peared a curiously enveloped figure, with not less 
curious head-dress. It was old Aunt Barbara. Be- 



96 IN THREE HEADS. 

fore her stood a servant with empty basket ; and 
now Aunt Barbara carefully piled the basket with 
pies and cakes, and in each corner a chicken all 
destined for poor pensioners and at last sent off 
the servant with minute and often repeated direc 
tions. Just then the choir of little negroes came 
down the street on their return, and, seeing her, 
formed in front of the house and sang their carol. 
Upon this Aunt Barbara retired into the house; and 
an unreflecting stranger might have supposed that 
she had peevishly gone away to avoid the singers. 
But not so; for, in a moment, she returned and dis 
tributed among them plenteous reward of cakes, 
which they proceeded at once to demolish, postpon 
ing, with the usual improvidence of their race, all 
further minstrelsy until new cravings of the stomach 
might call them to resume their labors. So, every 
where, beaming smiles and hearty good wishes were 
interchanged even the spirit of trade having 
kindly charities mingled with it in correction of its 
customary acerbities old age becoming, for the 
moment, young again, and dignity condescending 
to lively frolic. And all the while, the little bell 
upon the English church, away up the hill, rang out 
a joyful salutation to the day, with as merry spirit 
and consequential self-sufficiency as though it were 
a whole chime of bells. 

Then Geretie, leaving the window and making her 
toilet, gently opened the door, with intent to slip 
softly down stairs on tip-toe, and steal a march upon 
her father and aunt, with the first greeting for the 
day. Not so easy, indeed, for she also had been 



/2V THREE HEADS. 9*7 

waylaid with like intent. Beside her door crouched 
old Chloe, and on the first step stood Cato, and 
clinging to the bannisters were Kak and Tak. All 
these, as she appeared, screamed forth in one chorus 
a merry Christmas to her; holding up, in joyous 
acknowledgment of them, the little gifts she had put 
into their stockings. At the sound of this uproar, 
of course her father and Aunt Lysbeth darted out 
from below and caught her, unaware, upon the very 
last step her father pinching her lovingly upon 
the cheek, and her aunt, with mistaken aim, kissing 
her in the middle of her chin. 

Which being done, her father remembered how that 
he had just been told by Aunt Lysbeth about the 
undesirable working of matters the previous evening. 
How or why it had so happened he did not know; 
it was sufficient that hope for the Van Schoven 
alliance seemed at an end, and that he had caught 
a cold while waiting, to no purpose, outside in the 
snow. It seemed his duty to scold a little ; and 
with that intent he proceeded to make himself as 
red in the face as possible, roughening his throat a 
little for a harsh, grating roar. But Geretie, per 
ceiving his intent, kissed him so accurately upon the 
very center of his mouth, that she broke up all these 
preparations. 

" ISTot to-day, father," she said. " Xot upon 
Christmas morning, when all should be so happy 
and well pleased with each other, you know. And 
when, moreover, we have so much to do, that we 
have no time to be cross." 

" Xo, Geretie, not to-day, of course," he responded, 
9 



98 IN THREE HEADS. 

breaking into a hearty smile. " Not when we have 
so much to do, indeed." 

Which meant that, for him, there was nothing to 
do except to smoke his big carved pipe from imme 
diately after breakfast to early dark, occasionally 
gossipping with a passing neighbor. But for Geretie, 
there was everything to be attended to, so that it 
seemed wonderful how one person could get through 
so much. There were visits to be made in different 
directions; visits of ceremony upon relatives, who 
would, on no account, think of Christmas passing by 
without her coming ; and visits of friendly charity 
upon old dames who always looked forward to her 
approach as synonymous with the mince pies and 
krullers that she brought. There was a short ser 
vice to be attended in the little Dutch church at 
the bottom of the hill, and there was the English 
church at the other end of the street, to be looked 
into ; since it was always considered one of the 
most important observances of the season to note 
how tastefully the chancel and pillars were wreathed 
with pine and hemlock. All these formed only a 
portion of Geretie s duties for the day. 

For, coming home, there was the state-parlor to 
be opened and dusted out as only its mistress could 
dust it. There was the little square carpet in the 
center to be taken away to make space for the 
dancing. There was almost all the lower floor of 

O 

the house to be waxed under Geretie s eye. There 
were sconces for candles to be placed along the 
walls, and the parlor chandelier to be fitted with 
wax liu hts and decorated with Christmas greens. 



AY THREE HEADS. 99 

There was old china to be ferreted out from the 
dark closet depths and arranged for use. There 
were quaint pieces of silver, blackened from want 
of use, and seemingly almost forgotten, to be taken 
out of their green baize coverings and polished up. 
And there was the great bowlful of punch to be 
concocted after her grandfather s receipt, and then 
carefully locked up, lest the cook and coachman 
might be tempted to try its strength, and, trying it 
too often, overcome their own. 

Lastly, and late in the afternoon, there was to be 
a, retirement of Aunt Lysbeth and Geretie to their 
respective apartments; to be speedily followed 
thither by sundry women well skilled in secrets of 
the toilet. Of this, the result became apparent a 
little before seven ; for, at that time, the door of one 
room opening, let out Aunt Lysbeth, gorgeous with 
stiff brocade and gold-threaded turban, and with 
ample gold chains looped around her neck. Then 
from the other room speedily appeared Geretie, in 
dress of less cumbrous material, but with her heavy 
masses of auburn hair wonderfully built up over a 
high cushion, so as to show the whole pretty face 
up to the very roots of the hair, making also more 
evident the lustrous pearls forming her ear-rings. 
Her father was already down stairs and awaiting 
them ; somewhat uncomfortable, perhaps, in his new 
wig and his tights, which he suspected had been 
made a trifle too tight. To console himself, he was 
trying to whistle the little negro boys Christmas 
anthem, thinking that it was God save the King. 
But at sio-ht of the new coiners he forgot wig and 



100 /AT THREE HEADS. 

tights and Christmas song; and hobbling forward, 
paid to his sister the expected compliments upon her 
appearance, while he embraced Geretie with abund 
ant effusion of parental love. 

" But take care, father, or you will pull down my 
hair," was Geretie s response, as she released herself. 
"And more than all, you will bruise your pretty 
Christmas present, which, as you see, I am wearing 
at my belt." 

"A trumpery little watch not half what a 
Christmas present should be," he muttered ruefully. 
"Do you know, Geretie, I had meant another kind 
of Christmas present for you a rich young hus 
band?" 

"That is a present one should always select for 
herself, father." 

" No doubt you think so, Geretie," he responded, 
feebly attempting a growl. "And therefore it is that 
so foolishly you have given up everything the 
mill upon the Mohawk, and all ! Not to speak of 
what I have learned this morning that his old 
Aunt Barbara has begun to fail and cannot last six 
months ! A young man about whom half the mar 
riageable girls in the city are dreaming, while you 
persist in dreaming only about a penniless adven 
turer, roving around among the Indians, if he has not 
already been knocked upon the head by some of them. 
And what is more, Geretie, talking so much about 
him, as you do, that even I begin to dream of him ; or 
rather, which is not quite as disreputable, of his old 
great grandfather." 



IN THREE HEADS. 10 1 

" And how, father, did you know his great grand 
father ? " 

" Did I say I knew him, you vixen ? How, indeed, 
could I know a man who was one of Governor Stuy- 
vesant s councilors and lived nearly a century ago ? 
But for all dreaming purposes, I suppose it is the 
same thing to know old Cornells Hillebrandt s por 
trait. It hangs in the parlor of Andries Hillebrandt, 
Geretie, who is the present head of the family, and 
if Heybert never comes back, will inherit the noth 
ing he leaves behind him. Quite an interesting old 
portrait, indeed, seeing that old Cornells is shown 
up in steel breast-plate and basket-hilted sword, as 
befits a brave warrior who in the old country served 
two campaigns with Prince Maurice, and generally 
looks grim and warlike too" 

" And you dreamed about him, did you say ? " 
cried Geretie, starting. " And when was that ? " 

"Last night, I believe. N"o, not last night, after 
all ; but yesterday evening, as we all sat nodding 
together, just before the lights were brought in." 

" And did he seem to come into the room where 
you were, father ? And did he put his hand into 
his breast and pull out a parchment roll ? " 

" He did nothing of the sort, Geretie. He was in 
the room when I came in, if I ever came in at all. 
All I know is that I found myself standing in front 
of him, and might have been born there, for anything 
I can tell to the contrary. And if he had put his 
hands into his breast after a parchment, he must 
have done so before I came ; for when I saw him, he 
was flourishing the roll in the air, and he said" 
9* 



102 Ix THREE HEADS. 

"What did he say father?" Geretie almost 
breathlessly inquired. 

" Now, that is what I do not remember," Gisbort 
answered. " It could not have been anything very 
particular, or, I suppose, I should have laid it more 
to heart. And then, again, you know, I am not 
very much in the mood to hold communication with 
the flillebrandts, either alive or dead. Anyhow, 
before I could fix the matter, whatever it was, in my 
recollection, your Aunt Lysbeth awoke me ; very 
inconsiderately knocking her comb half through my 
bare skull, and leaving a dent in which I can almost 
lay my finger." 

Geretie pondered the matter; a little confused at 
first, but light gradually breaking in upon her, as she 
began to put facts together and form something of a 
collected theory out of the whole affair. Might it 
not have been that old Cornells Hillebrandt had 
visited her in a dream, to tell something import 
ant about her lover; that the dream had come to 
her ill-timed and at the moment of her awaken 
ing; and that, in the sudden knocking together of 
heads, it had been driven in detached portions from 
one to the other, her father holding that last frag 
ment which, with the first and second, should have 
come to herself alone ? 

"Father," she cried, seizing him by the arm, "you 
must remember and tell me all that the Councilor 
Cornells Hillebrandt told you. I am sure that it 
must have been something about Heybert. Think 
think all you can about it, father, and let me know. 
It was not your dream at all, or even Aunt Lysbeth s, 



IN THRER HEADS. 103 

but mine ; an<l you must not keep any portion of it. 
The dream was all my own, and Aunt Lysbeth 
knocking her head against mine, stole away a part 
of what belonged to me. Then you thumped Aunt 
Lysbeth and took away another and the best part 
of the dream from her. And, therefore, do you not 
see, father, that " 

" Why, what does the girl mean ? " cried Gisbort, 
in natural astonishment. " Your dream, indeed ! 
Have you so taken possession of the whole Hille- 
braridt family, that while you dream about Heybert 
you will not allow me a moment with his grim old 
great grandfather ? There, run away Geretie, and 
think no more about such foolishness." 

Whereby it will be seen that Gisbort, discovering 
himself to be the acknowledged complement of the 
jh armed circle of the dream, was disposed to treat 
the matter with somewhat careless spirit ; though, 
as the By vanck letter intimates, it was not improb 
able that, secretly, he was a little discomposed about 
the meaning and effect of the dream s singular par 
tition and sequence of delivery. 




CHAPTER V, 

Geretie could make any response, the 
knocker of the outer door, announcing the first 
arrival, compelled her to hurry across the room, and 
take her allotted position for reception. Old Cato, 
the coachman, now on duty as door-keeper, startled 
by that first rap from a comfortable nook in the 
kitchen, shuffled hastily toward the front, putting on 
a new liveried coat as he went ; and with that early 
arrival, almost at one instant, the great tide of the 
invited began to flow in steady stream. A lively 
scene out doors, where, from every point of the com 
pass, the guests converged to the Van Twiller man 
sion as though by preconcerted signal. Young dam 
sels, tripping along blithely, with thoughts all fixed 
upon the festivity before them ; finely gotten-up old 
gentlemen pacing solemnly onward, in the import 
ance of new laced and ruffled suits ; maternal dames 
in brocade, picking their way through the middle of 
the street, lest chance falls of snow from the roofs 
might discompose their laboriously erected head 
dresses ; officers in red coats and braided gold clink- 
clanking, down from the fort; not least of all to be 
mentioned, old Barbara Van Schoven, tottering over 
from her house, wrapped up as closely as though she 
were starting out for the Canadas, and reaching the 
further side of the street in state of great exhaus- 



IN THREE HEADS. 105 

tion so they came in gathering crowds. Most all 
were on foot, for the city was not so widely extended 
that many guests must ride. But now and then 
would draw up some large covered sleigh, with two 
or four horses, according as the dignity of the own 
ers or the distance they had traveled demanded; 
and from the dark recesses of these vehicles emerged 

O 

wealthy citizens from the neighborhood or Patroons 
from across and down the river, from Rensselaer, 
Livingston, and even from as far as Court-land 
manor; or scarcely less powerful landholders 
from along the Mohawk and down the Hudson; 
almost every broad possession, as far south as Phil 
lip s Patent, sending its representatives. To lighten 
these guests in their descent was the especial duty 
of Rak and Tak, now newly clothed in liveries of 
black, turned up in the cuffs and collars with red, 
and who each bore a naming torch, to the intense 
admiration of other little negroes gathered around; 
which torches being held up at each side of the 
great sleighs, often made goodly chance exhibition 
of rich laces and velvets, gold shoe-buckles, and 
other, festive adornments upon those descending, 
and called forth cheers from all the crowd. 

In doors, a scene still more animated and resplend 
ent, as now the rooms began to fill, and every moment 
the throng increased, until at last both parlors and 
the broad hall seemed closely occupied. A brilliant 
array of stiff-figured brocades and embroidered satin 
vests of sweeping trains and colored silk tights 
of high-heeled resetted slippers and silver buckled 
O f artistically fashioned head-dresses and 



106 IN THREE HEADS. 

carefully powdered wigs. Here and there the mili 
tary uniform of officers from the fort or the official 
costume of Councilor of State, giving pleasant 
variety to the scene. An animated throng, which 
soon resolved itself into its proper groups and 
positions ; a few old gentlemen immovably station 
ing themselves before the fire and beneath the pic 
ture of old Governor Van Twiller, there interchange- 

* O 

ing snuff and talking about the war with the French; 
old ladies sitting in corners and silently criticising 
each other s laces and jewels heir-looms, brought 
out long ago from London or Amsterdam, as the 
case might be ; the most decorously disposed dam 
sels arranging themselves along the sides, and there 
awaiting invitations to the coming dance ; but the 
greater portion of the guests filling up the spaces 
between and loitering in slow moving tide from 
room to room, until it seemed as though all the 
expected guests must be already there. Which was 
the fact, excepting, indeed, that two and the most 
desirable elements of the company yet lingered; and 
as Mistress Lysbeth passed around, bestowing here 
and there her greetings, she watched the door in 
anxious expectation of those still absent ones. 

Having not long to wait, however, since very soon 
they came; the minister of the English church, upon 
the hill, and the dominie of the Dutch church, at 
the cross-streets below, entering arm in arm, as 
befitted men whose Churches were in such pleasant 
and friendly unity. As sacerdotal guests, they were, 
of course, not bound down to any worldly follies of 
costume, eschewing velvets and maintaining rather 



IN THREE HEADS. 107 

their accustomed broadcloth, and having their well- 
shapen legs attired in tights of plain black worsted, 
rather than of lustrous colored silks. And yet, for 
all that, there was something of scrupulous care to 
be detected in the accurate powdering of their white 
wigs, and in the dainty starching of the thin strips 
of plain lace peeping from their coat-fronts. Making 
their most dutiful compliments to the smiling host 
esses, the pastors proceeded onward with cheerful 
sobriety of mien, distributing plenteous greetings to 
the many surrounding members of their several 
flocks; which being done, they accepted chairs of 
honor from which, themselves not dancing, they 
might watch the course of those who did, in the 
pleasant meandering through lively reel and 
stately minuet. Xow, surely, the company must be 
all complete. 

Not yet; for suddenly a large stage-sleigh, drawn 
by six horses for easier conflict with the up-country 
snow-drifts, stopped in front of the Van Twiller 
mansion, and a head and shoulders in military 
cocked hat and cloak being projected, inquiry was 
made as to the nearest crossing at the river. With 
him were eight other officers of the British army 
the speaker explained all participants in the late 
capture of Cape Breton, and now on their way with 
the glorious news to Xew York. Hearing this, Gis- 
bort Van Twiller hurried out bare-headed and sup 
plicated them to alight, and for that evening, at 
least, partake of his poor hospitality; alleging that 
he would never foi give himself if he suffered so many 
brave soldiers of His Majesty, King George, to pass 



108 IN THREE HEADS. 

his house, unrefreshed. To which entreaties after a 
little persuasion, the officers acceded; and when they 
entered and threw off their cloaks, they appeared 
attired in such spotless yellow leather tights, such, 
becoming and well-fitting red coats, and such care 
fully powdered locks, as made it more than lightly 
suspected that they had refitted themselves at the 
fort above in anticipation of a welcome, and that the 
inquiry as to the nearest river point was a mere par 
donable subterfuge. However this might be, none 
the less was their reception hearty, and the favor 
shown them for their late gallantry most abundant. 
And at once did common consent unite to reward 
them with the prettiest partners for the coming 
dance; to which none showed themselves disinclined, 
excepting two or three, who, alleging recent incapa 
citating wounds, remained apart as mere spectators. 
And now, at last, the party must really be complete. 
Not yet, indeed; for scarcely had those brave 
officers been welcomed, than from the head of the 
street, and simply coming on foot, appeared His 
Excellency, the acting Governor De Lancey. He 
had been unexpectedly summoned, during the past 
month, to the northern portion of the colony, on 
public business; which, having been completed, it 
was no difficult task so to arrange his homeward route 
as, after all, to enter the Van Twiller mansion, upon 
that Christmas evening. With his lavender tights 
and richly-chased silver shoe-buckles, his embroidered 
velvet coat and fine lace cuffs, and bosom plaits, his 
long buff vest and shapely peruke, the Lieutenant- 
Governor was a stately and pleasant sight to see. 



IN THREE HEADS. 109 

Upon either side of him walked a member of his couii- 
cil, the companions of his journey, similarly arrayed 
though with somewhat less degree of elegance, by 
way of showing all proper deference to rank; and 
behind, as his military body guard, were two full- 
uniformed officers of the British regiment in garrison 
near the Bowling Green. Attended by these four 
satellites, the Lieutenant-Governor made stately pro 
gress through the apartments; giving pleasant greet 
ings here and there to well-remembered friends, 
neglecting no opportunity of complimenting matronly 
dignity or blushing beauty, and even bestowing 
most gracious and deferential smiles upon his haughty 
political rival of Livingston manor. And now, 
beyond a doubt, was the party all made up at last. 

Little need, it may be, to tell at greater length 
than by mere suggestion, how, at the first, the ball 
was opened with single ceremonious minuet, wherein 
the Lieutenant-Governor gallantly leading out Mis 
tress Lysbeth Van Twiller for his partner, headed 
the dance, while other dignitaries, with other dames 
of high degree, filled out the set. How slow and 
stately was the dance, performed to becomingly 
heavy music, with only here and there a quickened 
step, and mostly carried through with dignified 
balancing to the right and left, and with low and 
gracious bowing every minute to each other person s 
partner, the whole concluding with bows still lower 
and more stately than any that had gone before. And 
how, after this opening dance was ended, even those 
who had most attentively enjoyed it, drew deep 
sighs of relief, and searched out partners for them- 
10 



110 IN THREE HEADS. 

selves; whereupon, not one, but several sets were 
formed in parlors and hall, and the music fell into 
livelier strains, and form and ceremony were some 
what cast aside, and mirth and joviality began to 
take their place. 

Or how, when, at last, the moment for supper 
arrived, the guests all crowded into the largest 
room, and there did full justice to the ample display. 
How, more especially, the men, both old and young, 
did honor to the great punch bowl, which, within 
the hour, was many times emptied and refilled. 
How, for all that, our ancestor s heads being made 
of strong and resisting material, there was no marked 
excess, each one coming away as soberly as he had 
approached ; though it was cautiously whispered 
n round that two or three of the old gentlemen, who 
had tapped their snuff-boxes beneath the portrait of 
Governor Van Twiller, went home with the queues 
of their periwigs a little askew. And how, that a 
lighter wine was furnished for the dames and dam 
sels, who partook thereof with much affected reluc 
tance and timid smile and blushes; but being at last 
persuaded, grew brighter in the eyes, and afterward 
danced all the better therefor. 

These things need not be told, being so easily 
imagined. It is sufficient, indeed, to narrate the 
incident that made pretty Geretie s eyes grow bright 
and a roseate blush of happy anticipation suffuse 
her face. She had not danced every time, preferring 
to leave that pastime mostly to her guests, herself 
gliding from one to the other in pleasant greeting. 
Now, during a pause in the figure, and while for the 



IN THREE HEADS. Ill 

moment standing alone near one of the heavily cur 
tained windows, her hand resting lightly against her 
side, she felt a little three-cornered piece of paper 
gently slipped between her fingers. To cast it away, 
as an uncalled for attempt to hold secret corres 
pondence with her, was of course her duty ; but at 
the first moment, there was the instinct of crushing 
the paper in her hand, to learn its nature. And 
doing so, she felt that there was a ring inside. 

With that, her heart gave a joyful bound. It 
needed not that she should open the paper to learn 
whose ring it held. There was only one ring that 
could ever come to her in this manner her own 
little torquoise ring, which she had given to Heybert 
Hillebrandt, and which was to be returned to her 
only as a token that all had gone well, and that he 
was coming back, at last, to claim her. Xo wonder 
that the flush of assured hope mantled her face, 
and that her eyes shone brightly with the intensity 
of newly found happiness ! Gently, and with almost 
imperceptible sliding of her hand, she dropped the 
precious paper into her pocket, turning, as soon as 
she could do so safely, to see who was the giver. But 
there was now no guest standing very near her no 
one, except her father, who, catching her bright 
glance, could not refrain from commenting upon it. 

" No prettier damsel in all the room than my own 
Geretie," he whispered, with bluff heartiness of sat 
isfaction. "If you would alway look as happy" 

"Father," she whispered in return, sidling up 
closer to him, " I am happy, because there is some- 
thiuo- that has made me so. Xo matter what it is, 



112 IN THREE HEADS. 

now. But I think that you can make me still more 
happy, if you will only recollect what old Cornells 
Hillebrandt said to you. For it is not your dream ; 
it is mine. He came to tell me what has become of 
Herbert ; he would never have told you, because 
you do not like Heybert, and would not care to 
know. And his face never would have relaxed from 
its sternness and looked kindly into your face as it 
did into mine. Men do not look at each other in 
that way, indeed. It was my dream ; and you and 
Aunt Lysbeth have got it away from me by a mis 
take. If all our three heads at that moment had 
not Now think hard, father, and let me know." 
Old Gisbort, as she spoke, turned his face from 
her, reflectively, or rather with the air of one who 
tries to reflect, and, under the circumstances, finds it 
difficult to do so. There was so much noise around; 
who, indeed, could think of anything ? He looked 
first down at his shoe-buckles, finding no inspiration 
there. Then into the middle of the room where were 
two sels of dancers, through into the sitting-room 
where were other two sets, out into the hall where 
was still another set. All seemingly in vain; for 
how could any one reflect with that pattering of feet 
keeping time in every direction, that lively tune 
ringing in his ears ? Such a very lively tune, indeed, 
kept back by the black fiddlers exclusively for this 
after-supper hour ! Those who danced seemed to do 
so with more life than ever before ; those who were 
not in the sets could not refrain from beating time 
with their feet, or with responsive nod of head. 
Gisbort himself began to rock his wig this side and 



IN THREE HEADS. 113 

that in unison with the measure, and was evidently 
forgetting all about Geretie s question, when she 
took him by the arm, and brought him back to the 
subject. 

"The dream, father the dream. What did old 
Cornells Hillebrandt say? It has been so heavy on 
my mind all day; but I would not trouble you then, 
for you wanted that I should not be idle. But 
now " 

"Yes yes, Geretie, the dream," he responded. 
" I will really try to think. He said it was some 
thing what was it indeed ?" 

Strange, perhaps, that her father should have sub 
mitted to her questioning with such easy acquiescence 
in its propriety strange, perhaps, that he did not 
laugh at her, and treat her demand as the outcrop 
ping of mere exuberant fancy. In the morning he 
would certainly have done so. But it happened that 
within the past hour he had drank freely of his 
punch, constrained thereto, by his duty as host, it 
being incumbent iipon him, personally, to pledge 
many civil and military dignitaries, from the Lieu 
tenant-Governor downward. He was not at all dis 
ordered thereby, the hard brain of that period never 
yielding to the hospitable labor of a mere hour or 
two. But still he was thrown into a pleasant glow 
of self-content, and into that impressive mood of 
mind wherein many things seem very natural that 
at other times might be considered strange. He 
could not have carried his fancy so far as to have 
imagined the presence of ghosts or spirits; but it 
was not so difficult to accept, as truth, the promul- 
10* 



114 IN THREE HEADS. 

gation of a novel philosophical theory. It therefore 
happened that, with the earnestness of Geretie s 
pleadings, it seemed no more than rational that one 
person should, by mistake or mismanagement, have 
come into possession of another person s dream. 

" Yes, I will try to recollect, Geretie ; as well, 
that is, as that capering tune will let me," he said. 

Once more he endeavored to contract his brow 
with thought ; then again gazed across the scene of 
nodding wigs and plumes and dancing feet, into the 
hall. There, too, all heads were moving in symphony 
with that cheery measure. Even the negroes in the 
kitchen had been attracted thereby, and slowly, but 
not the less surely, had edged their way inch by 
inch through the line of intervening pantries, until 
they stood in the hall itself. Slaves of the house 
hold and slaves of other houses some in the decent 
dignity of their masters cast-off suits, and some in 
their own fresh liveries some there as invited 
guests of the kitchen, and some there officially, as 
pages, or footmen, awaiting their masters departure ; 
little by little they had stolen into the hall, and 
open-mouthed with admiration and excitement, stood 
looking on in long, unobtrusive row, close against 
the wall on either side of the mahogany cabinet. 
As Gisbort now gazed thitherward, a light began to 
break into his eyes the light of recollection and 
then he turned once more to Geretie. 

"It was something about the cabinet, Geretie it 
was yes, I know it now. Old Cornells Hillebrandt 
said and he smiled pleasantly at me, Geretie, as 
he might have at you, in spite of all your ideas 



IN THREE HEADS. 



115 



to the contrary he said and he held out a 
long roll of parchment and shook it, as it were, in 
my face he said search the mahogany cabinet." 1 
But what I am to search for, or how or when, I do 
not know. It seems, indeed, that we all own this 
Hillebrandt dream, Geretie ; and, therefore, it should 
be sent for something very important. But if, after 
all, this is the whole of it, why then the sooner we 
take no further notice of it and forget it altogether, 
the better." 

So Gisbort pleasantly spoke, with a knowing wink; 
emboldened, as the Byvanck letter seems to hint, 
into passing ridicule of the Hillebrandt dream, 
by the subtle power of the punch. 




LH AFTER 



yj 



-^ 



VEX as Gisbort thus spoke, there came from 
the hall a slight cry of alarm, mingled with 
the sharp sound of splintering wood, the mahogany 
cabinet was seen to bend forward with a rocking 
motion, then recovers itself, while a portion of its 
heavy cornice fell to the floor. There was a momen 
tary stir among the guests, and Geretie and her 
father hurried to the scene of the disturbance. 

Nothing alarming, indeed. It was speedily ascer 
tained that the mischief all came from the little 
negro boys Rak and Tak. They had been in the 
line of self-invited guests from the kitchen ; and 
finding it impossible, by I eason of their immature 
stature, to see all that they desired, had climbed 
upon the shoulders of two tall footmen, steadying 
themselves in that uneasy position by clinging to the 
front cornice of the mahogany cabinet. There for a 
while standing content, until their supporters becom 
ing restive beneath their weight had suggested a 
descent. Thence it was no more than natural that 
Rak and Tak, looking around for respite and seeing 
how smooth was the top of the cabinet, should have 
decided upon climbing thereon. But the heavy 
cornice, upon which for the moment they hung 
wriggling in their attempted ascent, though stoutly 
framed had not been calculated to sustain the weight 



IN THREE HEADS. 117 

of two clumsy, half-grown negroes; and therefore 
breaking off with a crash had let them down upon 
the floor, itself tumbling after them. No bodily 
damage was found to have been done. The authors 
of the mischief picking themselves up, slunk off 
between the legs of the other servants into the 
kitchen, there doubtless to meet the ire and the 
uplifted spoon of old Chloe. The guests prepared 
to resume the interrupted dance; no evidence of the 
disturbance remained except the mutilated front of 
the cabinet. Where once there had been a cornice, 
there was now exposed a long narrow opening, not 
before known to have existed in fact, a secret 
recess. 

" See, father," cried Geretie, grasping him by the 
arm, and, pale with sudden excitement, pointing 
upward to the opening. "Surely it must be there 
that you were told to search." 

At first sight, indeed, there seemed nothing to 
tempt a search; but following the direction indicated, 
her father raised himself upon a chair and thrust in 
his arm. Far back in the cabinet, his hand encount 
ered a roll of parchment, dusty, torn and time-stained. 
Carefully he spread it out between Geretie and him 
self. And lo ! a word being deciphered here and 
there revealed the long missing Hillebrandt Patent, 
signed by their High Mightinesses of Holland, and 
with their great, heavy seal attached; furthermore 
signed and sealed by His Excellency Governor Stuy- 
vesant; and in order that no formality might be 
neglected, having in one corner a rude picturing of 
bow and arrows, the emblematic signature of some 



118 IN THREE HEADS. 

Indian chief who had previously owned the patented 
tract of land. 

The Hillebrandt Patent, indeed ! The long sought 
evidence wherewith the heir might now recover all 
his rights ! As Gisbort once more rolled up the 
parchment, there stepped before him a young, slight- 
built officer of the British army one of those two 
or three who had not danced, and quietly took the 
patent into his own hands. 

" Mine at last, is it not ? " he said. " I could not 
but believe that in the end fate would favor me." 

The light-brown beard and his studied seclusion in 
a distant corner of the room had hitherto prevented 
Heybert s recognition ; not to speak of the alteration 
made by the military uniform, so honestly won by 
brave deeds against the French, upon the Canadian 
frontier. But, in spite of all such disguises, the 
voice could not be mistaken ; and with a cry, Geretie 
threw herself forward and clung to him. A foolishly 
impulsive girl, of course; and who, more properly, 
should have stood apart in maidenlike reserve, until 
she might be asked for, with all solemn dignity of 
form. Indiscreet, indeed, to make a scene before 
that wondering crowd. But it passed off very well, 
somehow; nor was she obliged to endure the igno 
miny of repulse, inasmuch as Heybert placed his 
arm about her, and drew her still closer to his side. 

" You see how it is," he said to her father, with a 
quiet smile. " You cannot but feel that after all it 
must be so." 

" Yes, Heybert, I suppose that it must be so," Gis 
bort rejoined. And this is all that passed. But 



IN THREE HEADS. 119 

every one soon knew what had been said; and so, in 
a moment, the word went round that Heybert Hille- 
brandt had returned, and that Geretie had at last 
become his promised bride. And though there were 
those who said that old Gisbort Van Twiller would 
not have consented, except for the fortunate discovery 
of the missing patent, they did him wrong; since in 
his heart he had already relented, seeing that the 
affair with Kollof Yan Schoven had by no means 
prosperously advanced, and that Geretie would 
doubtless have proved obstinate in her choice to the 
very end. 

Therefore the matter stood thus decided in those 
few words ; and after some temporary buzz of com 
ment, the dancing Avas resumed as though it had 
never been interrupted. And now, Gisbort, taking 
pleasant consultation with himself, and, doubtless, 
gaining courage through one or two additional 
glasses of punch, came to one of those resolves, 
that if failing, gain all the odium of foolhardiness; 
but that, if succeeding, are looked upon as the 
product of pure inspiration. Nothing did he say to 
Mistress Lysbeth, who, doubtless, acting according 
to the dictates of social ceremony, would, from the 
very first, oppose his plan ; but craftily retiring into 
a distant corner, he beckoned up young Johan Van 
Twiller, his nephew. 

"Run, Johan," he whispered, "run at once to the 
Hillebrandts and all the rest of them. Tell them 
that Heybert has returned and is to marry Geretie ; 
th:it the old quarrel should be made up at last; and 
thai they must,- every one of them, come without 



120 IN THREE HEADS. 

delay, to the Christmas party. Tell them, too if 
they say anything about it that when Heybert 
and Geretie are married, I will give them the 
mahogany cabinet for one of their wedding presents. 
Xow start off at once; and, as you know what is 
good for you, never stop to say a word about it to 
Aunt Lysbeth." 

With a nod of shrewd comprehension, young 
Johan hurried off and soon delivered his message in 
different quarters of the city. There was much 
excitement thereat, and hurried putting on of old 
brocades and satins, and stitching together of laces 
and piling up of head-dresses ; for all those guests 
who had remained away from the great entertain 
ment had done so with regret powerfully tugging 
against the necessary display of resentment, and 
each one now hailed with pleasure the opportunity 
to come in at last, with dignity unimpaired. Never 
in all Albany, or elsewhere, indeed, either before or 
since, had so many fair dames and damsels departed, 
with such success, from their custom of giving up 
many hours to the toilet, and made themselves ready 
in so few minutes. 

At one time, indeed, there was a chance that their 
coming might work disastrously, after all. For 
when, in the Van Twiller mansion, it became known 
that Heybert was to be permitted to marry Geretie, 
the Van Schoven family and all their adherents 
naturally took offense, conceiving that a slight had 
been committed upon their young kinsman, and, 
therefore, that family self-respect demanded the 
ceremonious departure of each and all of them. 



IN THREE HEADS. 12 j 

Whereby such stern resolves began to be formed, 
that it became more than likely that the stream of 
reconciled Hillebrandts, Hogebooms, Jansens, Tien- 
hovens and Wyncoopes coming in would encounter 
at the very door a tide of angry Van Schovens, 
Swartwouts, Winegaerts and Van Fredingborcks 
going out. But young Rollof Van Schoven, seeing 
that a storm was brewing, took his kindred one by one 
aside; and told them that he had renounced all claim 
to Geretie, not merely now but the day before, inas 
much as he had then met a scout who had led him 
to suspect that Heybert, instead of being destitute 
among the Hurons, was serving, with glory, in the 
British army, and would soon return. Whereat 
they being all, in secret, loth to depart from such a 
pleasant party unless obliged to by their principles, 
wisely argued that if Rollof was not dissatisfied, 
neither should they be ; and so remaining, joined 
heartily in the grateful work of reconciliation. 

And now once more the sets were formed, and 
the three black fiddlers played another tune still 
merrier than any that had gone before, though 
that might seem scarcely possible ; so that it was 
said that the Lieutenant-Governor became inspired 
to engage in another minuet, and essayed to lead out 
old Mistress Barbara Van Schoven. This, indeed, 
was scarcely credited ; though many of those who 
disbelieved the story, afterward gave unwavering 
credence to the tradition, that the portrait of Gov 
ernor Van Twiller had nodded its head all through 
the dance in pleased sympathy. And, again, was the 
punch bowl filled ; for, of course, Gisbort and his 
11 



122 IN THREE HEADS. 

friends must drink many reconciliatory glasses with 
the newly arrived Hillebrandts and Hogebooms and. 
all the others. And so the Christmas party was 
kept up, with fun and frolic, even until the clock 
struck twelve a departure from time-honored cus 
tom which caused much comment ; whereat the 
English minister and the Dutch dominie, upon the 
next Sunday, felt constrained to interpolate their 
sermons upon the " Character of Jereboam " and 
the " Massacre of the Innocents," with some suitable 
remarks about the growing tendency to social dissi 
pation. This reproof was properly received by all 
the young, and, doubtless, did them much good ; 
but was not as well favored by the wardens and 
elders, inasmuch as it necessarily caused an altera 
tion in discourses that might better have been left 
as they had always been used to hear them. 

So, after all, on that Christmas day, the pretty 
Geretie obtained her present of a husband, and 
chosen by herself, as she had proclaimed to be her 
right ; while at the same time Heybert Hillebrandt 
regained his ancestral manor. Not much of a 
manor, indeed. Only some three or four miles 
broad upon the river and ten or twelve miles deep, 
and with not more than eighteen or twenty first- 
class mill sites. But, for all that, a property well 
suited for the support of two young people of 
moderate tastes and ambition ; while the future soon 
revealed the story of its proper management. For, 
before many years, the Hillebrandt house was built, 
not far from the Van Twiller mansion ; not as large, 
indeed, inasmuch as already property upon that 



IN THREE HEADS. 123 

street was becoming costly, and even tne most 
wealthy could no longer afford houses of over 
seventy-five feet front. But to make amends, it 
rejoiced in the hitherto unknown extravagance of a 
stone stoop, and had a gilded weathercock upon the 
gable as handsome as the Van Twiller weathercock. 
And within the house was a large sitting-room, in 
all respects like the Van Twiller sitting-room, except 
that over the fireplace, instead of the portrait of 
Governor Van Twiller, hung that of old Cornells 
Hillebrandt. It might have been thought, indeed, 
that Geretie Hillebrandt would set little value upon 
the portrait of one who, coming in a dream to visit 
her and tell about the missing title-patent, so stu 
pidly blundered in his ill-timed approach, that the 
dream, instead of pertaining to her alone, was 
broken up, and lay scattered in three heads, and 
almost irrecoverably lost. But, possibly, she re 
garded rather the good intent of the act than its 
careless carrying out. It is certain, indeed, that she 
looked favorably upon the old councilor ; for, in the 
letter which afterwards, in accurate and circumstan 
tial narration of the dream, she wrote to her dear 
friend, Mistress Anneke Byvanck, of Kinderhook 
the time-stained letter of which we have heretofore 
so often spoken she alludes most lovingly to the 
picture of old Cornells Hillebrandt, and evidently 
regards it as the chief and crowning glory of her 
mansion. 



.. A 

(Ptftj at ({ ir 



H AFTER 






I 



JlpHE London stage-coach dropped me at the gate- 
&? lodge of Grantley Grange, and according to ray 
usual custom I started up to the Hall on foot. It 
was such a pleasant Christmas morning as perhaps 
is not often seen, and might well have tempted to a 
longer walk than that short mile up the carefully 
trimmed avenue. There had been a slight fall of 
snow, a mere sprinkle indeed; but it was sufficient 
to clothe the brown turf with a dainty tint of pearl, 
and to make the dry leaves rattle crisp beneath the 
feet, and to project the great oaks in seemingly more 
ancient grandeur against the brightened back-ground, 
and generally to give an unusually cheery and exhil- 
erating aspect to the whole scenery of the park. 

When I had nearly reached the Hall, the church 
clock struck noon, and immediately all the bells 
began to ring out a merry Christmas peal. Up and 
down, hither and thither, now a snatch of tune 
and again a meaningless clashing of all the bells at 
once single notes and double and triple concords, 
and, in fact, every thing that well-disposed bells ever 



128 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

can or will do so it ran on right cheerily. Now 
it was that I anticipated my Uncle Ruthven would 
hasten out to meet and welcome me. For I knew 
that he was fond of listening to the chimes; and 
when the changes were being sounded upon them he 
would not unfrequently sit at the open window, the 
better to enjoy them. And of course, as I could now 
plainly see the Hall through the leafless trees, he from 
his open window could as readily watch my approach. 
Somewhat to my momentary chagrin, however, he 
did not come forth or even meet me at the door, and 
I was suffered to enter unannounced. And passing 
through the main hall, I wandered into the library. 

There I found my Uncle Ruthven standing in the 
middle of the floor, his head thrown back, his eyes 
fixed intently upon the opposite wall, one arm raised 
in front to the level of his face, the other hand thrown 
behind him, an expression of resolute determination 
impressed upon every feature, his whole appear 
ance and position resembling that of the antique 
Quoit Thrower. Evidently he had been engaged in 
similar action; for, in a moment, he stepped to the 
other side of the room, picked up a short, fat book 
which had been thrown thither, and replaced it upon 
the table. 

" Anatomy of Melancholy," he remarked, turning 
to me with a little chuckling laugh. " The first 
person who for a long while has got the book all 
through him eh, Geoffrey ? Though, of course, we 
all relish a little of it, now and then. Hit him directly 
upon the breast, and it went through him as through 
a summer mist, dropping out behind between his 



THE GHOSTS AT G-RANTLEY. 129 

shoulder blades. Of course he has vanished, taking 
the hint of not being longer wanted here." 

" Who, Uncle Ruthven ? " I asked. 

" Why, the ghost, of course," was the answer. 

I was a little startled at this. It is true that I had 
sometimes thought that the library at Grantley 
Grange might be just the place for ghosts. It was 
wainscoted heavily with carved oak darkened in tint 
with the seasoning of four centuries. Above, the 
walls were covered with hangings of Spanish leather, 
stamped in quaint pattern. The fire-place was deep 
set and broad so deep and broad, indeed, that the 
great logs smoldering within appeared no larger 
than ordinary sticks. The windows were projected 
into oriels with heavy mullions and let in the light, 
encumbered with a thousand stray shadows. The 
tables and chairs and high book-cases seemed almost 
immovable with their sculptured massiveness, and 
as though designed for a race of giants. Queer 
lamps hung from the ceiling and grotesque candle- 
sconces projected themselves from the walls, each 
with heavy metal shades that would shut in more 
light than they sent forth. Over the mantel and 
beside the doors were paintings blackened with age ; 
a Salvator Rosa, turned by the grime of time into a 
mere confusion of different shadows, with only here 
and there a touch of faded light for contrast, and, 
on either hand, eight or ten old portraits in ruffs and 
crimson coats and armor, cracked and worm-eaten 
and sometimes almost undistinguishable in face, but 
serving in costume to show the different careers into 
which, in times past, the fates or inclinations of the 



130 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

originals had carried them. A gloomy old library, 
indeed, full of crevices that would not stay closed, 
and cobwebs that could not be got at, and drafts 
that came from no one knew where, and flickering 
shades that seemed to obey no philosophic law, but 
stole here and there across wall and ceiling as their 
fancy led them. So that not unnaturally it appeared 
at times as though the place could never have been 
made for man s enjoyment, but rather as a hall for 
witches Sabbath or ghostly revels ; and as I watched 
the subdued and hesitating flickering of an errant 
sunbeam across the tarnished gilt pattern of the 
Spanish leather, it was not difficult for queer fancies 
and imaginings to take hold of me. But, after all, 
they were mere idle conceits, and at the most I had 
not for an instant anticipated the actual presentment 
of unearthly visitants. 

"The ghost, did you say?" I therefore repeated } 
in some amazement. 

" Yes, the ghost. Has been here every Christmas 
for many a year. Always comes just as the chimes 
strike up at noon, as regularly as thoughthey had 
waked him. If you had ever before this happened 
to spend a Christmas with us, you might have met 
him yourself. Assumes that he belongs to the 
house, and that therefore he has his vested rights in 
it. Frightened me a little at the first, but have 
become used to him now and do not care. Am 
rather disposed, indeed, to lord it over him with 
high hand ; and he is such a patient ghost that it 
hardly seems to make much difference with him. 
Am sorry always, in fact, if I speak crossly to him. 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 131 

But, then, you know my temper, Geoffrey, and how 
little I can brook presumption. How, then, would 
you feel if a ghost were to come, implying that he 
was the master of the house and that you were 
merely a visitor ? Gets just so far, indeed, and then 
vanishes without telling any thing important." 

I looked wonderingly at Uncle Ruthven thus 
calmly discoursing about the supernatural. 

" But do you ever let him get further than that ?" 
I suggested, my eyes wandering to the book upon 
the table. 

"Perhaps not, Geoffrey perhaps not. I sup 
pose that if I were more patient he would talk a 
little better to the purpose. But then I am very 
quick tempered, and it is so exasperating, every 
Christmas to go through the very same thing. I 
always throw a book at him and am sorry for it 
afterward. It is certainly not the hospitable thing 
upon my part. But then to be so constantly beset, 
year after year, and not to know how many more 
there may be of them. For there is at least one other 
ghost somewhere about the house, Geoffrey. I have 
never seen him, but Bidgers the butler has, and he 
says it is as like this fellow as two peas. And if I 
am too polite to them, who knows but that they 
may be encouraged to come in swarms and make 
the house very uncomfortable? But let us leave 
all that for the present. You will be wanting to 
see your room, I suppose. The South Oriel, just 
past the second landing. Bidgers will carry up 
your portmanteau. Am sorry, by the way, that 
Lilian has not yet returned from the continent. 
She could, of course, make your stay much more 



132 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

pleasant for you than I can. But will do my best, 
Geoffrey. Luncheon at one, as usual." 

Escorted by Bidgers, I proceeded up stairs to the 
South Oriel. It was a large apartment upon the 
south side of the house, with a broad octagonal 
window projection. If possible, the furniture was 
heavier and more antiquated than that of the 
library. There were quaint old tapestry hangings 
to the bedstead, so queer and faded that it 
seemed almost as though they might have been 
embroidered during the Crusades. The wardrobe 
was a marvel of size and solidity, and gave the 
impression that in troublous times, obnoxious own 
ers of the estate might have safely been concealed 
in a false recess. Other articles of furniture were 
in similar style, and all together gave quite a gloomy 
aspect to an apartment that naturally, if left to 
itself, might have been well disposed to be cheerful. 
The effect was not diminished by a dingy picture 
over the mantelshelf, representing a funeral urn 
and drooping willow worked in hair, with an exceed 
ingly numerous and mournfully dressed family com 
ing two by two down a winding path to weep in 
concert around the tomb. While I gazed solemnly 
at this work of art, a ragged yew tree kept striving 
at every breath of wind to thrust one of its gnarled 
old branches in at the window ; and putting all 
things together, the cheerfulness went out of me 
entirely, and the idea of ghosts came in quite as 
naturally as in the library. I tried to shake it 
off, remembering my late experience and not wish 
ing to have my mind burdened with any further 
queer fancies of the kind ; and after a moment or 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 1.33 

two, indeed, seemed to be succeeding very toler 
ably and became able to hum an operatic drink 
ing song with comparative ease and correctness. 
Just then, however, happening to turn my head, 
I saw a strange figure standing near the foot of 
the bed and gazing at ine with fixed but not 
unpleasing or unfriendly expression. 

The figure of a pleasant young fellow; not, to 
all appearance, over twenty-two years of age, and 
exhibiting a life-like rotundity and opacity that 
would have prevented any suspicion in my mind of 
the supernatural, if I had not had my uncle s word for 
it, or if I had discovered any way in which the stran 
ger could have entered the room without my seeing 
him. A handsome young fellow, courtly in manner 
and dress, with coat of purple velvet, slashed and 
embroidered the whole length of the sleeves, a 
dainty little rapier swinging at his side and a 
plumed cap held in his hand. Hair falling in long 
curls over his broad lace collar, and the beard 
twisted into a point, while the small mustachios also 
twined into points turned up against the cheeks. A 
mild, responsive kind of face, with courteous smiles 
and replete with indications of gentle disposition. 

" I am exceedingly happy to meet you," he re 
marked, playing with the gold-lace upon his sword 
hilt. " The more so that since I have been ill, so 
few persons come to visit me at all. I do not know 
that I have seen anybody of late, excepting the but 
ler ; and even he appears to be a new butler, most 
unaccountably put into possession by some other 
and pretended authority. I must inquire into it 

Avhen I am completely restored. " 
12 



134 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

" You say that you have been ill ? " 

" Yes ; a faintness and much uneasy want of rest 
at night, principally arising from this lump in my 
chest; and that, in turn, coming from the attack up 
on me by my brother Hai old. Would be glad to 
introduce him to you if it were not for that. But I 
put it to you now : after what has happened could I 
show him any such attention, or, indeed, associate 
with him at all ? If cousin Beatrice were here, 
now " 

At this moment there came a rap at the door ; and 
the ghost, shrinking a little toward one side, began 
to pale before me, and I saw that he was slowly fad 
ing away, beginning at the legs, and so the line 
of invisibility extending upward until gradually 
the whole figui-e had entirely vanished. Again I saw 
in its entirety the carved foot-board which he had 
hitherto partially obscured; there was nothing left, 
indeed, to remind me of the strange visitant. And 
opening the door I saw only Bidgers, the butler. 

" Luncheon is ready, Master Geoffrey, " he said. 
" Xo fish to-day, for the West stage is not in, but 
the mushrooms is particularly fine. Heard you 
talking to the ghost as I came along the upstairs 
ghost, not Sir Ruthven s down-stairs ghost. Sir 
Kuthven has only seen the down-stairs one, but I ve 
seen both. Saw this one last Christmas, about this 
time. He would not speak to me, however, it being 
that I am only the butler. They re very much alike, 
Master Geoffrey. There s a very nice haunch of 
venison for dinner to-day, let me recommend ; and 
the kidneys is not to be despised, either." 




LH AFTER 



that, and during the remainder of my 
visit, nothing else happened especially worthy 
of mention. The Christmas festivities passed off as 
they generally do; and the next morning I returned 
to London, where my recollection of the ghosts soon 
began to die away. At first, indeed, as is natural, I 
could think of nothing else. But inasmuch as my 
Uncle Ruthven had taken the matter so coolly, I began 
to be impressed by a careful and more deliberate con 
sideration of his manner, and to wonder whether 
I might not have imagined many of the most 
singular circumstances attending the incident; un 
til, at last, I concluded that there could have been 
no ghost at all, but that I must have dreamed the 
whole story. 

In addition, my time became so fully occupied 
that I had few occasions in which I might engage 
in desultory wandering of idle curiosity or specula 
tion ; for during the first eight months I was diligently 
employed reading for my admission to the Bar. 
After that, I was actively forgetting most of what I 
had learned, giving myself up as escort to my cousin 
Lilian. She had returned from her travels upon the 
continent, and with her father was stopping awhile 
in London before continuing on to the Grange. It 
was my pleasing duty to remain at Lilian s side most 



i36 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

of the time, Sir Ruthven being glad to avoid the toil 
of active companionship. I Avas very much in love 
with Lilian, but would not for the world have pre 
maturely told her of it it would have made her so 
tyrannical. At last, of course, we quarreled. It 
was the day before Sir Ruthven and Lilian returned 
home ; and she informed me that she was going on 
the 10.45 stage-coach, and that she would be seri 
ously displeased if I attempted to see her off. This 
looked well for me upon the whole, I thought, 
and I started for the coach at once. As ill luck 
would have it, I missed it, a circumstance which 
really helped my cause ; since Lilian, being there 
by persuaded that I understood it to be a last 
ing quarrel, felt suitably piqued into anxiety and 
regret. 

A little before Christmas, Sir Ruthven wrote me 
to run down to the Grange as usual. With his 
letter came a perfumed note from Lilian, stating that 
if she could, she would gladly be away at Christmas 
with her Aunt Eleanor ; but since she could not, but 
was obliged to remain home, she would consider it a 
great insult if I presumed to visit the Grange before 
she could get away in some other direction. I was 
wonderfully encouraged at this, feeling that all was 
going on well ; and packing my trunk at once, I 
went down by the earliest stage on Christmas 
morning. 

Again the chimes happened to be ringing just as 
I alighted ; and, as before, no one coming forth to 
meet me, I pressed on to the library, there to make 
my respects to Uncle Ruthven, feeling well assured 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 137 

that I should find him in his accustomed seat beside 
the fire-place. He was in the room, indeed, but not 
sitting down. He was standing beside the chair and 
bowing with great affectation of cordiality to some 
one iu the further corner of the room. Looking i u 
that direction, I beheld a young fellow in court suit 
of two centuries ago, with hand upon his heart, 
bowing back to my uncle with still greater excess of 
old-fashioned courtesy and cordiality; and I did 
not for an instant doubt that I was looking upon the 
down-stairs ghost. Almost the duplicate of the 
other one, indeed. Evidently about the same age, 
with equally agreeable, sunny, ingratiating expres 
sion. Like the other, he had thick curls falling over 
the collar, beard cultivated to a point, slashed velvet 
coat, laces, gold tassels, and a slim, daintily deco 
rated rapier. The most notable differences con 
sisted in his complexion and hair being a shade 
darker, and his coat being of a lively crimson. It 
was a pleasant thing to see these two persons 
salaaming cordially and ceremoniously to each 
other ; my uncle bowing until he struck the table 
behind him, and the ghost bending over in respon 
sive courtesy until the point of the scabbard of his 
sword tipping up, made a new scratch upon the 
worm-eaten picture of Salvator Rosa. 

" You see, Geoffrey," my uncle whispered between 
his repeated genuflexions, " he has come again to 
the very minute. The very same time as last year, 
just as though the chimes waked him up. I remem 
ber that you then thought that perhaps I was accus 
tomed to cut him short rather too suddenly. We 
12* 



138 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLUY. 

will be more cautious now, and will not end until we 
get his whole story out of him." Then to the ghost : 
" I am rejoiced to see you once more, kind sir." 

" It gives me equal and exceeding pleasure," 
responded the ghost. " And I know that my brother 
Arthur would be similarly gratified could he only 
know about your arrival. But, then, how is he to 
know ? After his conduct toward me the obloquy 
he has thrown around me, in fact it certainly 
would be beneath my dignity to approach him, even 
for the sake of imparting information. lean, there* 
fore, merely myself welcome you." 

" Now, just listen to that ! " muttered Uncle 
Kuthven, beginning to flush up angrily. " I have 
done my best ; but is it possible to continue polite 
ness with a person who insists upon treating me as 
his guest ? I treat him with all the cordiality I can 
muster, and the only result of it is that he turns 
around and seems to patronize me." 

It chanced that, moved by the first warmth of my 
uncle s courtesy, the ghost had advanced a little, as 
though to meet us, and thereby he now stood 
between us and the window. This change of posi 
tion seemed to produce a marvelous alteration in his 
appearance. The face so fair and genial and prepos 
sessing became at once a queer confusion of lines, 
every feature being obscured by what looked like 
converging cuts and wrinkles, making the whole 
expression of the countenance unintelligible. It 
was only for an instant, however. The next moment, 
the ghost moving away from the window, his face 
became as before clear, distinct, filled with amia- 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 139 

ble and courteous refinement and intelligence. It 
was not until afterward that the mystery explained 
itself. Now, indeed, the singular appearance had 
lasted for such a brief moment that it seemed scarcely 
worth while to seek an explanation. The only 
thing, in fact, that particularly struck me was a red 
line extending around the throat, as though the 
result of a forced compression. This was observable 
even after the ghost had passed from directly before 
the window, and until he had moved completely out 
of reach of the entire spread of sunlight. 

" If Cousin Beatrice were here," remarked the ghost 
in continuation, "she would undoubtedly be very 
happy to take part in entertaining you. But where 
is she now ? It is some days since I have seen her. 
Do you think it possible that Brother Arthur, in 
addition to the ignominy to which he has subjected 
me by his unjust suspicions, can have influenced her 
mind against me ? If so, as long as I live, I will 
never 

" Listen again to that ! As long as he lives ! How 
can anybody stand such drivel ? " cried Uncle Ruth- 
ven. "I suppose, Geoffrey, you will now see that it 
is as well to put an end to this first as last ? " 

With that, as upon the previous Christmas, my 
nncle seized a large book and vindictively let fly at 
the stranger. If until that time I had had any doubts 
as to his unsubstantial nature, they were now relieved. 
Corporeal and opaque as he had seemed, it was none 
the less true that the volume, striking him in the 
stomach, passed completely through him as through 
a stratum of air, falling upon the floor behind, 



140 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

while the figure remained unblemished and uninjured; 
with this exception, however, that naturally he 
seemed scarcely pleased with the roughness of the 
reception, and a shadow of discontent flickered across 
his face. Then appearing to comprehend that pos 
sibly he might be unwelcome, he slowly faded away. 

" Middleton s Cicero, this time," remarked my 
uncle, wiping his face and gazing toward the weapon 
he had just so successfully used. " And the fellow 
has digested that as well as the volume last year. At 
this rate he will get my whole library into him before 
long. I cannot help it, Geoffrey. You saw that I 
tried my best to be polite. But when a ghost acts 
as though he owned the house, and moreover talks 
as though he were alive, mortal man could not with 
stand the temptation to cut him down. Well, well, 
get ready for lunch, Geoffrey. The South Oriel, as 
last year." 

Of course, being sent up to the same room and the 
old programme seeming to begin being played, I 
expected once again to meet the purple-coated ghost. 
And as is natural, I went up with some little trepi 
dation. For it is one thing to have a ghost appear 
to you, good natured and smiling from the first; and 
another thing deliberately to throw one s self in the 
way of a ghost who might not happen at the moment 
to be in a very pleasant humor, and might exert some 
supernatural power to make himself extremely disa 
greeable. All the time I was dressing, I looked 
uneasily over my shoulder, in search of apparitions. 
But inasmuch as we seldom find what we most surely 
expect to see, I was left entirely undisturbed, and 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 14] 

finally began my descent to the dining room with 
feelings greatly relieved and composed. 

Passing the drawing-room, I heard the subdued 
rustle of silk, and entering, found Cousin Lilian all ar 
rayed for luncheon and smoothing herself out before 
the fire. Of course after what had passed in London, 
she swept me a stately courtesy, addressing me by 
my surname as though I were a stranger whom she 
had casually met the previous day; and of course I 
bowed in her presence with ceremonious reverence 
befitting the first presentation of Raleigh to Queen 
Elizabeth. Then Lilian, slightly lifting her eye 
brows in spirit of wonderment at my intrusion, 
remarked that she believed Sir Ruthven was in the 
library. I replied that I had already seen Sir Ruth 
ven and had found him busily engaged with a 
ghost ; and that as this seemed to be their re 
ception day and others might be expected by 
him, I would not intrude upon him for a while, 
but with her permission would prefer to remain 
where I was. 

These preambles having been thus satisfactorily 
entered into, of course we began making up by 
throwing at each other little spiteful remarks of an 
epigrammatic nature; now and then spontaneous, 
but for the most part carefully manufactured weeks 
before and treasured up for the occasion. Snapping 
these off from side to side like torpedoes, and mutu 
ally rebounding them harmlessly from our casemated 
natures, we gradually composed our feelings and be 
gan gettino- alono- very well on the path to reconcil- 

O ~ ~ ~ t 

iation. How long it might have taken under ordi- 



142 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

nary circumstances I cannot tell ; but it happened all 
at once that Lilian was startled into an unexpectedly 
rapid advance. For of a sudden I felt her hand 
grasping my arm, and she called me by my first 
name in the old familiar manner ; and turning, I saw 
her gaze fixed with a wondering but not altogether 
alarmed expression upon the opposite corner of the 
room. 

" See, Geoffrey ! " she whispered. " The up 
stairs ghost ! How comes he in here? " 




LH AFTER 



, I saw the purple velvet ghost at last, 
03 bowing low to the floor, with a humble courtesy 
that disarmed wrath, though none the less did an 
explanation seem necessary. 

" Really, my good sir," I therefore said, " this in 
trusion " 

" I must apologize for it, certainly, " he remarked, 
again bowing low. " I was a little behindhand this 
morning in reaching the South Oriel. And passing 
through the hall, I saw a female figure inside this 
room. I entered, expecting to meet my Cousin 
Beatrice. I see that I am mistaken. Last night I 
slumbered more uneasily than usual the lump in 
my chest causing me very great disturbance, and 
doubtless it has excited my nerves and made me 
easily deceived. It has all come from Brother Harold s 
outrage upon me, I suppose. Which being so, 
it only remains for me to take my leave, with apology 
for the intrusion. " 

" Stay yet a moment, " I said. " This is my cousin 
Miss Lilian, who certainly will not fear you and will 
forgive your slight mistake. And and I have so 
much to say to you. " 

In fact, I felt that this might be the last time I 
should see him; and that it would be no more than 
a charity to enlighten him as to his true condition. 



144 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

It was a very sad thing to see a bright, amiable 
young ghost going around century after century as 
though he were still alive, and I decided that it 
would be a kind action to correct his error. More 
over, it happened that just at this moment, chance 
threw a convincing explanation within my reach. For 
as the ghost stepped a little to one side preparatory 
to taking his departure, it came about that he stood 
between me and the window, just as the other 
ghost had done; and in like manner, every feature 
seemed obscured with a network of contrary lines 
and wrinkles. But as he chanced to remain there 
a little longer than the other one had done, the 
mystery became almost at once revealed. I saw 
that the singular appearance was caused by the 
strong sunlight showing through him, whereby his 
whole head appeared as a transparent object. It 
was exhibited as a mass of dim, lurid light, not 
entirely endowed with all the bright translucent 
qualities of glass, but rather as when a sheet of 
thin porcelain is held up to the light, so that its 
semi-cloudy transparency is revealed, and with it, 
any dark spots or imperfections in the surface are 
brought to notice. In like manner, our visitor s 
head now seemed transformed Avith the brightness 
of the sunlight behind it, so that its former opacity 
was gone and there was a light, cloudy appearance 
as of a dissolving mist, marked in every direction 
with straight and curved lines of greater or less 
intensity. At first, the features, excepting as they 
appeared in profile, seemed entirely to have vanished 
beneath a confusion of other lines; but a moment s 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 145 

observation assured me of the contrary. They were 
all still there the sparkling eye, the delicate mouth, 
the well-shapen ear. With a little attention, I could 
still trace the sweep of their several outlines. It 
was merely that those outlines were now somewhat 
confused by the addition of other lines appearing 
from within the skull. These also, I found that 
with a little study, I could still make out. There 
was a broad, irregularly-curved mark showing the 
outline of the lobes of the brain. I could follow 
the whole ball of the eye beneath its socket and the 
fainter lines which connect the eye with the brain 
behind. The drum and the small bones of the ear, 
and the twisted passages from the nose to the ear 
were all now clearly defined. The palate, too, and 
the sides of the throat, until hidden at last beneath 
the laced collar of that courtly coat. In fine, under 
the influence of that bright sunlight behind it, the 
young fellow s head became something like one of 
the modern medical wax preparations, exhibiting 
every portion of its frame in exact position; except 
that, far superior to any work of art, it did not 
require to be taken apart for study, but could be 
examined, in detail, just as it stood. 

" How long," I said, myself moving a little one 
side so that he might not appear between me and 
the window; by which judicious movement he 
became at once like any other person, his features 
returning to their usual distinctness of outline, 
unclouded by any rival lines and curves from behind; 
" how long have you been thus ill and disturbed at 
night by pain within your chest ?" 
13 



146 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

" A week, or even more, I think, 1 lie said. 

"Pardon me," I responded; "here is where you 
have made a trifling mistake in your chronology 
you, and the other, as well. This little episode 
which you believe has occupied a few days or so, has 
lasted, in reality, upward of two centuries. You 
have been thrown into a certain condition of mind 
in which you are unable to take due note of time. 
Why this is so, I cannot attempt to explain. The 
melancholy fact remains that you have already been 
wandering some two hundred years, and for all we 
know, may be destined to wander to all eternity. 
In proof of this, I might refer you to your costume, 
which is of the fashion of Charles the Second ; while, 
in fact, we are living in the thirty-eighth of Vic 
toria." 

I paused for a moment here, thinking that he might 
wish to ask some question. But as he maintained 
a perplexed silence, I continued : 

" You are in further error in believing that the only 
consequence of some injury you have received has 
been mere restlessness at night. Instead of Avhich, 
you died and of course were suitably buried. And 
consequently, you are not now a man, but merely a 
ghost. It may be unpleasant to be told this, but it is 
as well that you should know it first as last. And, 
after all, there can be no harm in being a well-con 
ducted, creditable ghost. As such, you are allowed 
to appear each Christmas day for a few minutes, at the 
expiration of which, doubtless, you return to your 
grave. There, I presume, you slumber until the 
next Christmas day, for you seem to have no definite 



THE GHOSTS AT GRASTLEY, 147 

knowledge of your whereabouts. At the least you 
must be comfortable, which perhaps is more than 
can be said of many ghosts. Even Hamlet s father 
seems to have suffered torments; though there is 
presumptive evidence that he was a very good man, 
and totally unlike his brother. You are incredulous 
about what I am now telling you ? In proof of it, 
let me stand you directly in front of the window, so 
that the sunlight will strike full upon your person. 
Then let me hold this looking-glass before you. Now 
studying your reflection carefully, you will see that 
you are transparent ; which, I take it, is the surest 
proof any man can enjoy of his being a ghost. You 
can trace out the passages of your ears, the convolu 
tions of your brain, the course of your jugular vein. 
This line, which you might easily mistake for a nerve 
or cord, is merely a crack in the looking-glass. Should 
you feel disposed, hereaftei , for your amusement, to 
study your internal anatomy more thoroughly, I 
would advise a new and more perfect mirror. But 
can you any longer doubt your condition ? " 

" I can no longer doubt, indeed," groaned the 
ghost. " But what, alas, can I now do V " 

"A thousand tilings," I responded. " I take it 
that, inasmuch as men must not live idle lives, in 
like manner ghosts, also, may have their duties to 
perform. Surely, it can scarcely be intended, in the 
economy of the unseen world, that they should pass 
lives or, rather, existences of careless idleness. 
I know that, were I a ghost, I would do my best to 
find some useful employment. I think that I would 
endeavor to obtain some occupation that might be 



148 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

of benefit to the world I had left behind. Suppose, 
for instance, that yon endeavored to retain some, 
even trifling, recollection of the nature of your 
abode in the unseen world, how you are associated, 
whither you are sent, and other facts of a kindred 
character, and were to impart them to the human 
race from time to time through myself. Do you not 
think that you would be doing great good, as well 
as entitling yourself to the gratitude of all living 
men ? " 

The ghost mutely shook his head. Evidently he 
did not care particularly about the gratitude of 
living men. 

" Or suppose," I continued, struck with a new, 
and, in my estimation, better idea for it happened 
that I had lately been interesting myself deeply in 
medical jurisprudence "suppose that you were to 
apply yourself to the benefit of the human race in an 
anatomical or pathological capacity. There is on 
record the case of a man who had a hole in the side 
of his stomach through which processes of digestion 
could be watched, to the great service of medical 
science. Need I say that, for every purpose of 
interest or utility, you surpass him infinitely ? I 
must assume, with tolerable certainty, that if your 
head is transparent, so, also, is your whole body ; 
and that the workings of your inner system are 
simply hidden from sight by your clothing. 
Divested of that, you could easily unfold, in the 
strong light of the sun, the entire operations of 
your heart, your lungs and your stomach. Daily 
could you have your seances, and new discoveries 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 149 

could be noted down. There must be some thiu, 
ghostly, almost impalpable fluid in your system 
answering the purpose of blood in the human frame, 
arid of this physicians might succeed in watching 
the circulation and flow. There are vexed questions 
in medical science as to the real use of certain 
vessels and attachments whether they are actually 
necessary in the human constitution, or whether 
they are mere rudimentary relics of a lower organi 
zation. These questions you might succeed in 
determining. In fact"- 

I had reached thus far, becoming so transported 
with the increasing magnitude of my speculations 
that I no longer looked at the ghost, but with half- 
closed eyes gazed upward at the ceiling ; when sud 
denly Lilian plucked me gently by the sleeve, and, 
with quiet movement of the eyes, called my attention 
more directly to our visitor. He was standing 
motionless beside the window; but I observed that 
the pleasant expression had faded from his face, an 
angry flush was mounting into every feature, grim, 
transporting rage was clouding every line. And, as 
I paused in natural hesitation, he turned roughly 
toward me. 

" Have you done ? " he cried, bursting out with an 
old-fashioned oath of the days of the royal Stuarts. 
" Have you come to the end of your base proposals ? 
Have you reflected sufficiently what it is to dare to 
suggest to Sir Arthur Grantley, of the Court of 
Charles, that he should pass his time illustrating the 
labors and theories of leeches, quacks, and charl 
atans?" 

13* 



150 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 



Another old-fashioned oath, a half withdrawal of 
the slender rapier from its sheath, a driving it down 
again with impetuous, angry energy, and the ghost 
strode wildly out of tho drawing-room, and was no 
more seen. But for two or three moments we could 
hear him growling forth his queer old court oaths as 
he rattled away along the outside passage. 




LH AFTER 




and I gazed at each other in speechless 
wonderment. The hell rung for luncheon, 
and we passed toward the dining room ; still with 
thoughts too deep for words. 

" Can it be," I said at length, as we entered the 
other room, " that this person, whom we had sup 
posed to be merely some retainer of the family, was 
in reality its head ? That he could have been an 
ancestor of yours, Lilian ? " 

" Papa will know," she answered. " We will ask 
him at luncheon." Then, when the old gentleman 
sat eating his nuts and raisins and sipping his wine 
before which time he disliked to be disturbed about 
any thing excepting the occupation immediately in 
view she began : 

" Was there ever a Sir Arthur Grantley, papa ? " 

" Let me think," mumbled Uncle Ruthven. " Yes, 
there was a Sir Arthur about two centuries ago. 
And now the story begins to come to me. There 
were two brothers twins; the oldest having the 
estate and title, and the youngest being a captain in 
the Royal Guard. One would have supposed that, 
being so nearly of an age and closely related, they 
would have kept the peace ; but the contrary was 
the fact. They quarreled so that one of them mur 
dered the other, and was suitably hanged for it," 



152 THE G-HOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

" Is there record of the fact, Uncle Ruthven ? " 
" Nowhere, unless it may be in the State Trials. 
I have never looked there. You will find no allusion 
to it in Burke or Debrett. Those useful and accom 
modating compilers, out of regard for the family 
honor, I suppose, merely state that Harold Grantley 
died, aged twenty-two: a piece of reticence which, 
after all, was scarcely worth while, considering that 
it happened so long ago. Time is a great cleanser 
of family escutcheons. It would be unpleasant to 
have a murder attached to the reputation of one s 
father or grandfather ; but carry it two centuries 
back, and no one seems to care. If it were not so, 
there is scarcely a royal family on earth which would 
not be hanging its head. I do not read that Her 
Most Gracious Majesty Victoria ever makes herself 
miserable about any suspicions attaching to the 
memory of Queen Mary of Scotland. In fact, 
rather a disreputable ancestry, if distinguished, is 
better than none at all. It is scarcely to be sup 
posed, for instance, that any of us would take it 
much to heart at finding Guy Fawkes seated upon 
one of the limbs of the family tree. At any rate, 
we have no reason to complain of this little murder 
in the Grantley line, seeing that it finished up the 
direct descent in that quarter and sent down the 
entail to us through a collateral branch." 

With that, having exhausted his knowledge upon 
the subject, Uncle Ruthven went on sipping his wine 
and turned the subject upon the culture of turnips. 
But after luncheon Lilian and myself, feeling by no 
means contented, slipped up to the library again 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 153 

and took down one of the time-worn dusty volumes 
of the State Trials. The books had evidently not 
been moved out of place for years; but it was easy, 
having the reign, to find all that we wanted, and in a 
few minutes we opened at the case of Hex v. G-rantley. 
The book was very heavy, and at the first we spread 
it upon the table. This proving inconveniently high 
we took to the sofa, where we let the volume rest on 
both our laps and read together. It was very pleas 
ant, altogether. It was necessary for Lilian to lean 
over so that her curls brushed across my shoulder, 
and at times I could feel her breath warm upon my 
cheek. That she might have greater strength to 
hold her share of the book, I passed my arm sustain 
ing!} about her waist; a fact which she did not seem 
to realize, so intent was she upon the story of the 
murder. We have often read about young men and 
maidens looking upon the same book and in just 
such positions. In those narrations it is generally a 
book of poetry, or at least a novel that interests 
them. I question if very often a young lady sits 
with her lover absorbed in the story of a murder 
committed by one of her own family and reads it 
without any feeling except of curiosity about its mere 
incidents, and as coolly as though it were Jack 
Shepperd or Oliver Twist. But then, as Uncle 
Ruthven justly observed, it was so long ago. 

It appeared, then, from the account in the State 
Trials, that Arthur and Harold Grantley were twin- 
brothers of the age of twenty-two. As Uncle Ruth 
ven had stated, Arthur was the oldest and in posses 
sion of the title and estate, while Harold held com- 



154 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

mission in the Palace Guard. Naturally the two 
brothers were thrown much together, and were 
supposed to be greatly attached to each other. 
Of course, they sometimes had their little dis 
agreements; but, until the period of the murder, 
it was never supposed that there was any especial ill 
feeling between them. The trouble ensued about 
noon one Christmas day. Harold had obtained leave 
to visit his brother at the Grange ; and after an early 
dinner for they were alone and much form and 
ceremony was dispensed with they sat at the table, 
conversing, eating filberts and drinking their wine. 
Possibly they had been drinking too much ; but not 
so much, in fact, as to exhibit its effects upon them 
to any great extent. The most that could be said 
was, that it might have tended to make them quarrel 
some ; but as it turned out, this after all was the 
whole mischief in the case, and much worse in its 
results than downright and less harmful intoxication. 
It chanced that Sir Arthur had taken the oppor 
tunity of exhibiting to his brother a certain valuable 
heirloom, known in the family as the great Lancaster 
diamond, having come into the line from a collate 
ral Lancaster branch. It had lain concealed in a 
secret closet during the Cromwellian troubles, and 
had just been brought to light again. It is supposed 
that Sir Arthur, being attached to their cousin 
Beatrice and wishing marriage with her, had designed 
presenting her with the diamond ; and that Harold, 
being equally in love with her and perhaps with no 
less prospect of success, had made objection ; and 
that from this fact the quarrel had arisen. Be that 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 155 

as it may, their voices were heard in loud dispute ; 
and suddenly Harold calling out for help, his brother 
was found lying upon his back lifeless and with every 
appearance about the throat of having been foully 
dealt with. Harold s account of the circumstance 
was to the effect that Sir Arthur all at once had 
thrown himself back in his chair and gasped and 
seemed to have been seized with a fit. On the other 
hand, it was argued that young men of his vigorous 
constitution did not readily die in fits that the 
appearances of foul play by strangulation were too 
evident that there had certainly been high words 
between them, a fact, indeed, which Harold was 
obliged to admit that the known passion of both 
the young men for the same lady would have been 
sufficient of itself to produce fraternal hatred and 
strife and furthermore, that Harold would have a 
supreme interest in his brother s death, by reason of 
the succession to the estate. And then again, the 
diamond had disappeared. If the death had been a 
natural one, the diamond would not have been dis 
turbed ; but inasmuch as it was the leading cause of 
the dissension, nothing was more natural than that the 
murderer should have made away with it, by throw 
ing it out of the window, into the lake, most likely, 
so as to remove one great evidence of the crime. 
Altogether the feeling ran very high against the sur 
viving brother, political prejudices that could 
scarcely now be explained intervened to increase the 
excitement, while certain favorites of the king, 
desiring promotion in the Guard by removal of one 
person of higher rank, prejudiced the royal mind 



156 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

againsc pity or pardon. In fine, after much agitation 
and a protracted trial, young Harold was found 
guilty and executed. 

"And this explains," I said to Lilian, " many cir 
cumstances that hitherto have not been clear to me. 
The red line around the throat of the down-stairs 
ghost ; the pain in the chest of the up-stairs ghost 
- a difficulty most naturally resulting from outside 
pressure all these things now tell the story very 
clearly, and agree most wonderfully with the State 
trials account. Only which at first seems strange 
the murdered now does not seem to remember 
that he was put to death, nor the murderer that he 
was executed for it." 

"That is, indeed, singular," said Lilian. "But, 
then, ghosts are so silly ! " 

"At first sight, it may seem strange," I answered; 
" but not after a moment s reflection. Violence 
endured by us in life is very often with difficulty 
afterward brought to our memory. One has a fall 
or is stricken down by a club and made sense 
less; he recovers after awhile, and knows that in 
some way he has been injured, but does not remem 
ber the actual fall or blow. And why should it be 
different if the injury leads to death? Looking 
upon it in this light, and with this philosophy, we 
see the young baronet awakening in the grave with 
no conception of ever having been killed, but merely 
with some indistinct idea of previous attack or 
vituperation. And, in the same manner, we find 
the younger brother awakening in the belief that he 
is still alive, and remembering not his execution at 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANT LEY. 157 

the hands of the law, but only the fact of havino- 
been charged with some outrage against the other, 
the nature of which he cannot comprehend, while 
the circumstance of any charge being made at all 
grievously offends and distresses him." 

"All very plausible, indeed," responded Lilian. 
" But suppose that, after all, he was innocent ? " 

"A thing very hard to believe, with so much con 
trary evidence," I said. "All that is a mere woman s 
unreasoning supposition, with endeavor to wipe off 
a blemish from the family escutcheon." 

"Pho! for the family escutcheon," responded 
Lilian, putting up her lips in pho-like form. And 
as she spoke she looked so pretty that, having my 
arm still about her waist, I began seriously to con 
sider whether I had not better improve the oppor 
tunity and now make my offer. So much was 
already understood between us, indeed ; and every 
one, even Lilian herself, knew very well that it was 
destined some day to come about, as a suitable 
family arrangement long foreseen and often talked 

* ~ 

about ; and, therefore, what better moment than the 
present to unburden my heart ? 

"I think, Lilian," I said, "that it is about time 
I spoke a word or two to you about our future." 

" Well, Geoffrey," she replied. 

I saw the flush gather in her face, that she 
knew what must be coining, that she anticipated 
tender avowal with loving expression. In this 
last respect, at least, mindful of recent aggrava 
tions on her part, I determined that I would dis 
appoint her. 



158 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

"No," 1 said, "it is not probable that Harold was 
innocent. And therefore you must see for yourself, 
Lilian, that your family have been a most disrepu 
table lot. But for all that, having unfortunately 
a strong personal prejudice in your favor, I am 
inclined to believe that I shall not be doing myself 
too great injustice in offering you my alliance." 

" You are very kind, certainly, Geoffrey," she 
responded. " I cannot but feel intensely gratified at 
the preference. I suppose that every family must 
at some time or other meet its misfortune of a 
public execution or some similar disgrace. I con 
sider it particularly fortunate that with us it has 
already happened. In your line of the family it 
is yet to come ; and if I may judge by circumstan 
ces, it will probably take place during the present 
generation. And merely that I may legally enjoy 
the privilege of standing at your side and comfort 
ing you during that closing ordeal, I take pleasure 
in accepting your offer." 

And this is how Lilian and I became engaged. 



CHAPTER V. 

ai 

fT was understood that trie wedding would not 
take place immediately. Uncle Kuthven had 
some old-fashioned notions about matrimony, promi 
nent among which was the idea that no young man 
should marry without having the means of support 
from his profession, so as to be independent of the 
fluctuations and liabilities to loss of private fortune. 
Upon this basis, it was determined that we should 
not wed until I had made a public and creditable 
appearance at the Bar. 

This came about in the following October. I had 
been engaged as third counsel in the great case of 
Charity-boy v. Churchwarden, for assault. Church 
warden had boxed the ears of Charity-boy for play 
ing marbles on a tombstone; but unfortunately had 
not succeeded in catching him to do so until they 
were over the boundary-line of the graveyard. Up 
on this defect, want of jurisdiction as to place was 
alleged, and action brought. The suit had been 
running nearly five years, and therefore could now 
reasonably be moved for trial. The rector, curate, 
half the vestry and three of the bell-ringers had 
been subpoenaed to give evidence and stood ready. 
It was necessary to have, in addition, the testimony 
of the toy-maker who had sold the marbles ; and he, 
it happened, was on his death-bed at the north of 



160 THE GHOSTS AT QRANTLEY. 

Scotland. A commission had been issued to take 
his testimony. The toy-maker lay delirious for the 
most part, having a lucid interval of about half an 
hour each day, during which he desired to make his 
will. He was constantly prevented from doing so, 
however, by the entrance of the commissioners de 
manding to take his testimony, which so confused 
him that he always went off wandering again. 
Pending the execution of the commission, of course 

O f 

an adjournment was desired. 

Now it happened that, both the senior counsel be 
ing away, it devolved upon me to make the applica 
tion for the adjournment, and with a little difficulty 
about the pitch of my voice, I succeeded in doing 
so. The judge said that if the other side were 
agreed, there could be no objection ; and the other 
side having duly consented, the adjournment was 
ordered. Whereupon I wrote down to Sir Ruthven 
that I had made my first appearance. Sir Ruthven 
immediately wrote back, asking whether my speech 
would be reported in the Times. I replied that I 
did not suppose it would, as the papers were un 
usually interested in the Montenegro difficulty, to 
the exclusion of much other valuable news. Uncle 
Ruthven thereupon responded that he was satisfied, 
upon the whole, even if the Times was silent about 
me; and that now that I had resources for support 
independent of inherited estate, the wedding might 
come off immediately after Christmas. And he told 
me to run down the day before Christmas, so that 
we could have a pleasant little Christmas dinner by 
ourselves, before the invited visitors began to arrive. 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 161 

Accordingly, I arrived at Grantley Grange upon 
the afternoon of the twenty-fourth, and was at once 
shown to my room by Bidgers, who not only lighted 
me up, but followed me in to assist in unpacking my 
wardrobe. And while doing so, naturally with the 
self-allowance of an old family servant he let his 
tongue run loose with the gossip and events of the 
day. 

"A hamper just come in, Master Geoffrey, with a 
fine large salmon ; but that is for to-morrow. You 
must praise it when you see it, for Sir Ruthven sets 
great store in having got it. There has been no 
ghosts seen since you was here last perhaps they 
have all gone away for good. There is talk that the 
Earl of Kildare will be at the wedding next week; 

O 7 

but any which way, he has sent a silver pitcher. 
Maybe, after all, the ghosts have all been locked up 
where they are. Miss Lilian s Aunt Eleanor has done 
better than the Earl of Kildare though. She cannot 
come, they say; but such diamond earrings as she 
has sent almost as large as filberts, Mr. Geoffrey! 
As to the grapes to-day, I am fearful there s a little 
mold on some of them; but the oysters 

" That will do thank you, Bidgers," I said, tired 
of the running stream ; and Bidgers, taking the 
hint, affected to blow a speck of dirt off the sleeve 
of my wedding coat, and gently glided out of the 
room. I was not so much tired, indeed, as that I 
felt I would like to be alone for thought, Some- 
thin^ in Bidders last remark had awakened an asso- 

O O 

ciation of ideas in my mind; but of such intangible, 
confused character that I could not follow it up to any 
14* 



162 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

definite purpose. Diamonds as large as filberts 
filberts and diamonds, so ran the words, through 
and through my mind like the strain of a tune ; but 
out of it all I could not, with the utmost concentra 
tion of thought, gain any clue that I might follow 
up to a satisfactory certainty. 

At night the same I fell asleep with the old 
sequence of words running in my head, still like the 
strain of a tune, as sometimes we will set to meter 
the thumping of a railroad car. In the middle 
of the night I awoke; and then there flashed upon 
my mind a solution of the puzzle, but so wild and 
improbable, so idiotic and fantastic did it seem, that 
at once I discouraged it. Even then, when scarcely 
half aroused, and at an hour when the waking fancies 
run riot in premonition and alliance with hardly more 
fanciful dreams, did I laugh at the crude conception 
and try to beat it down, falling asleep again at last 
with mind apparently entirely relieved of the foolish 
notion. But when in the morning I awoke with the 
sun broadly shining in upon me, there again was the 
queer idea; and now, wonderful to relate, though I 
lay with the collectedness of thought appertaining 
to the open day, and with little chance of crude 
fancies any longer overwhelming me, the idea, 
though still as strange and ghost -like as before, no 
longer bore that first impress of the ridiculous, but 
was as something real and to be soberly and carefully 
considered. At least the experiment suggested by it 
might be tried, though secretly and cautiously, so as 
not to provoke ridicule in case it came to nothing. 

Dressing myself, I stole softly down stairs. It 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY, KJS 

was still very early, and there was HO one stirring 
below, excepting a housemaid dusting the furniture. 
She merely looked up and then continued her task, 
my habit of morning walks being too well known to 
excite observation. I passed through the long 
window and came upon the bare winter-stained 
lawn. There was the gardener, muffling anew some 
plants in straw; but he too, merely touching his hat, 
said nothing. Then I followed a gravel path around 
the terrace to the rear of the house, and thence 
struck off to a little grove of pines a hundred yards 
or so away. 

In the midst of these was the burial vaslt of the 
Grantley family. It was by no means a repulsive 
object, being merely a brick erection a few feet 
above the surface of the ground, and originally 
constructed with some pretense of architectural 
symmetry. Neither was it an object of superstitious 
or sentimental reverence. In fact, at the present 
time there were not more than twelve or fifteen of 
the family laid away in it. It had been built four 
centuries ago, and with accommodation for a hun 
dred or so; but at the time of the rebellion a party 
of Cromwell s troops came sweeping down upon the 
house, and, being in want of material for bullets, 
turned all the dead Grantleys out of doors and took 
their leaden coffins to cast into ammunition. After 
that time the burials continued for only a few gene 
rations; since which, the yard around the village 
church had received the family dead. About ten 
years ago it had been found necessary to open the 
vault in order to get the date of some particular 



164 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

death for legal evidence. The long-closed door had 
stoutly resisted, and at length the lock was obliged 
to be broken. It was intended, of course, to restore 
the fastenings ; but equally of course, and as happens 
so often with matters that can be done any day, the 
duty was postponed from time to time, and gradually 
came to be no longer remembered. The closed door 
then warped open a little of itself, and the gardeners 
leaned their tools against it, and after awhile pushed 
the door further back, and slipped their tools just 
inside out of the rain ; and so, step by step, the 
almost empty vault became only used as a tool-house. 
Vines were trained to grow over it, ferns gathered 
around its base, and a stranger would have taken 
it for a somewhat dilapidated ice-house. 

I pushed the door open yet a little further and 
peeped within. The sunbeams, still low and shut 
out by the screen of trees, could not now enter; 
but enough light stole in to show a pile of rakes and 
hoes just inside, and a little further along, a row of 
empty recesses, built for coffins, but long since made 
vacant. Entering, I could see that the recesses ran 
in double rows for some distance in front of me, 
being at the further end shrouded in darkness. I 
drew out my cigar lighter and by the aid of repeated 
tapers proceeded to explore. Then I could see that 
at the further end, a few of the recesses were filled 
with coffins. These were in various stages of decay. 
In all cases, the dark coverings of cloth had moul 
dered away and lay in fragments at the side or on 
the stone floor below. In some, the outer wooden 
shells were nearly whole ; but in others, they had 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 165 

crumbled into dust and splinters. With a few of 
the recesses, the names and dates of the remains 
within were fastened at the lower edge upon brass 
plates ; with others, the plates had entirely disap 
peared. There was one recess which contained a 
worrn-eaten coffin of somewhat plain construction, 
but no name or date or even evidence that any such 
had ever been affixed. I could not resist the impres 
sion that here lay the unfortunate Harold Grantley; 
given, as matter of right, a place in this ancestral 
vault, but, through some charitable idea of letting 
his unhappy fate become forgotten, denied all record 
that could lead to future identification. Passing 
onward, with gathering assurance that my search 
would not prove unavailing, at each minute renew 
ing my quickly expiring tapers, I carefully read 
every name, now and then rubbing the brass plates 
with my handkerchief before I could decypher the 
blurred old-fashioned letterings. Then, for a while, 
as the number of remaining niches one by one was 
lessened without rewarding my search, hope began 
to give way to disappointment. Only for a moment, 
however; for soon, to my abundant gratification, I 
read upon one of the plates the words and charac 
ters, "Arthur Grantley, Obt. Dec. 25, 1663, Aet 22." 
Here then, lay he whom I sought, and I scruti 
nized attentively all that remained. A moth-eaten, 
rat-torn pall, a nest of coffins, and that \vas all. 
Uneasily for the instant I turned my head, dreading 
lest the blithe young apparition with its purple and 
laced coat and dangling sword should arise and 
demand wherefor I was about to disturb him ; but 



166 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

all remained quiet about me. I was alone with my 
own thoughts and purposes, and could prosecute my 
designs unquestioned and unimpeded. 

I had feared lest I might be obliged to seek for 
assistance, but it was not so. Every thing, in fact, 
seemed made ready and convenient for me. The 
outer box was worm-eaten, warped and decayed, so 
that it could be broken and brushed away in places 
with a mere stroke of the hand ; the leaden coffin 
inside had corroded, and the solder of the seams 
parted, so that the joints had spread apart, and, 
with no great effort, I was able to bend open the 
end ; the mahogany coffin inside of all had suffered 
similar decay with the outer box, and readily parted. 
In a moment the outer end of all three coffins lay 
open, and I could easily insert my hand. 

For a moment I hesitated. What if, as some 
times happens, the remains had not suffered cor 
ruption, and my touch were to encounter a solid 
form ! Repressing this fear, I passed my hand 
stealthily within, finding no obstruction. Only a 
little dust at the bottom, hardly deep enough for a 
finger to write a name upon. This was all that was 
left of the gay young courtier, twelfth baronet of 
Grantley. Slowly I let my hand wander up along 
the bottom of the coffin, groping among the dust, 
until two-thirds up to the top ; then I struck against 
a small, hard lump. My heart gave a loud thump 
of excitement. What could it be ? Was it the 
prize that I had hoped for, or was it merely some 
fragment of unpulverized bone? Half wild with 
tremulous expectation, I grasped the little lump of 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 167 

substance firmly between thumb and forefinger, and 
hurried with it to the door of the vault. Even as I 
approached the dim, lurid light just within the half- 
opened entrance, T began to feel my assurances grow 
more sure ; and when I emerged into the bright glow 
of day beyond, and held my prize up against the 
golden rays of the risen sun, I could no longer 
doubt that I had gained possession of the long lost 
Lancaster diamond. 




CHAPTER VT, 

WHEN" I returned to the house, I said nothing 
about what I had been doing. It seemed as 
though the time for explanation would not come 
until toward evening. How, in that broad garish 
light of morning, could I venture to reveal that 
secret of dreams and darkness and rifled tombs ? 
How, indeed, would my story be believed, unless 
with the glow of nightfall thrown around it to 
attune the listeners to credence ? 

Moreover, what if, during the day, the ghost were 
to appear, condemn my invasion of his sepulchre, 
demand his diamond, and possibly, by threats of 
supernatural force and terroi s, obtain it ? Certainly 
the accustomed hour for the ghosts was close at 
hand, and at any moment they might visit us. 
Already Sir Ruthven sat in the library awaiting his 
especial apparition. My uncle was, for the time, in 
no particularly friendly mood toward ghosts ; and 
he now loudly declared that, whatever might before 
have been his courtesy, his forbearance had at last 
ceased, and he would not tolerate their coming. 
Certainly not now, he said, seeing that the house 
was preparing for a season of festivity, and had 
other things than the next world to think about. 
Accordingly he sat, watching, in his great elbow 
chair, with the heaviest volume of the Encyclopaedia 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 169 

Brittanica at his side, in readiness to crush out the 
first sign of ghost before even a word of salutation 
could be uttered. 

But to the wonder of all and greatly to Sir Ruth- 
ven s disgust as well seeing that, having made up 
his mind for action, he did not like to feel that his 
time had been thrown away no ghost appeared, 
upstairs or down. Punctually at twelve, indeed, 
the chimes rang out the merriest peal we had 
enjoyed for years the changes were sounded by 
the hundred with unusual exactness and celerity ; 
yet all the time my uncle sat unmolested, with his 
Encyclopaedia lying idle beside him. At length the 
day wore itself out, the bell sounded for dinner, and 
we repaired to the dining room. 

It was to be our last little dinner by ourselves ; a 
very small Christmas party, indeed, but on the mor 
row the guests would begin to arrive and to break up 
our privacy, and then there could be no complaint 
about lack of excitement in the household. This 
last day Sir Ruthven had desired we should have for 
ourselves. But few as we were, no one had forgot 
ten that it was the Christmas season and should be 
honored accordingly. Holly and mistletoe decked 
the room in every direction. A great yule-log lay 
cosily esconced in the chimney-back and good hum- 
oredly tried to blaze up as merrily as the smaller 
branches that crackled around it ; though being so 
unwieldy, it was not very successful in the attempt. 
But those smaller branches, invading the yule-log s 
smoldering dignity with their blithe sport of gaiety, 
snapped and sputtered around it with uproarious 
15 



170 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

mirthfulness; sending none but the prettiest colored 
smoke wreaths up the chimney, and casting out 
bright tongues of flame that lighted up every corner 
of the room and gave a ruddy glow to the time- 
faded portraits, and even brought out patches of 
cheerful sunlight upon an old cracked Rembrandt 
that no one had ever been able to decypher. 

The table was set for us three only; but, in honor 
of the day, with as much ceremony as though there 
were to be twenty present. A tall branch wax-light, 
used only on occasions of great festivity, was 
brought out from its green baize covering and planted 
in the center. Treasures of antique silver, the very 
existence of which Sir Ruthven had nearly forgot 
ten, were exhumed from their places of long con 
cealment, and now once more, as in past centuries, 
pleasantly glimmered in the gentle gleam of wax- 
light. Flowers here and there unobtrusively exhaled 
sweet odors from tiny vases. There was to be a 
boar s head brought out and placed on the table at 
the proper time for each of us to look at -and taste 
and pretend to enjoy. The plum-pudding was turning 
out a great success the greatest for many years, as 
Bidgers whispered to me. All the circumstances of 
the scene around us were soft, harmonious and cheer 
ful; certainly now was the time for me to tell my 
story. 

With some little affectation of ceremony, perhaps, 
I drew forth the Lancaster diamond and placed it in 
Lilian s hand. I told her that I could make her no 
more valuable Christinas gift than to restore this 
rich family relic of the past. Lightly I touched 



THE GHOSTS AT GKANTLEY. 171 

upon the process whereby I had found it ; rather 
elaborating, instead, the train of thought that had 
led me to suspect where it had lain hidden. I ex 
plained how the finding of the diamond gave new 
illustration to the record in the State Trials, proving 
that the younger brother had not been guilty of any 
murder at all that during the agitation of a 
quarrel the older brother must have accidentally 
swallowed the diamond, mistaking it for one of the 
filberts that lay beside it near his plate, and which 
were of similar size how that this unfortunate 
error had been sufficient of itself to cause his death 
by suffocation how that thereby the discoloration 
around the neck of the deceased, as well as the dis 
appearance of the diamond were properly accounted 
for how that, most probably, it also gave an expla 
nation of the unpleasant lump in the chest of the 
crimson-coated ghost. 

" It is doubtless so," a soft voice thereat inter 
rupted. We all looked up ; and, at the further side 
of the table, we beheld both the ghosts. More alike 
now than ever before, it seemed to me ; only with 
that single difference of color of the coats. The 
same bright engaging faces, the same gentle manner; 
as now, all heart burnings seemingly healed, they 
stood with their arms bound lovingly about each 
other in fraternal embrace. 

" We have heard it all," continued the crimson 
ghost, "and thereby we find an explanation of some 
things that we never thought of before. Both Brother 
Arthur and myself now know that we are dead ; and 
that it is fitting, therefore, that we should no longer 



172 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

haunt these scenes, to which indeed, we have no claim. 
I know that I have been hanged ; a matter, how 
ever, which occasions me no concern, seeing that I 
deserved it not. I should at any rate have been 
dead long before this ; and since my family can be 
satisfied of my innocence and I know that my 
Brother Arthur, in spite of a few harsh words, loves 
me still the same, I care not for others opinions." 

" And I," said the purple ghost, " cannot suffi 
ciently thank you for the relief you have given me. 
Nightly have I lain in what I now perceive was my 
grave, unable to sleep by reason of the strange lump 
in my chest. This morning about eight, there came 
sudden relief; such sweet relief, indeed, that I 
overslept myself, and for the first time in many 
years have missed the chimes, and neglected at the 
appointed hour to make my usual Christmas visit. 
Even this bodily relief, perhaps, is not equal to what 
I feel at knowing that in reality I have suffered no 
wrong at the hands of Brother Harold. I think that 
if now we could only agree about the only subject 
which has ever estranged us by which I refer to our 
mutual attachment to Cousin Beatrice we might 

" I think I can easily make your mind easy about 
that matter," remarked Uncle Ruthven, coming for 
ward. " If you will bear with me a minute, I will 
show you the life-like picture of your Cousin 
Beatrice in after days." 

He lifted one of the brunch candlesticks from the 
table, and directed its light upon a painting on the 
wall. The portrait of Cousin Beatrice in more 
advanced life. A cracked, blackened and moth- 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 173 

eaten picture ; but in which, by singular chance, the 
face had remained intact. The face of a woman 
who had long survived the natural freshness and 
graces of youth, and had gained in place of them 
none of those more matured and ennobling qualities 
that dignify age. The patched and painted and 
powdered face of a woman given up to all lightness 
and frivolity ; a face in which there was nothing 
sweet or pleasant or kindly ; in which all the art of 
Sir Godfrey Kneller had not succeeded in mingling 
with accurate likeness one spark of generous nature 
or blotting out the appearance of sordid vanity that 
pervaded it throughout all. 

" The portrait of your Cousin Beatrice in her 
fiftieth year," remarked my Uncle Ruthven. " She 
never married, and was noted at Court for her skill 
in cheating at cards." 

The two young ghosts gazed for a moment 
intently at the picture. As they did so, it seemed 
as though their embrace grew more intimate and 
fraternal. At last they turned again, as satisfied. 

" I do not think that we shall ever quarrel again 
about Cousin Beatrice, even if at times we forget 
that we are all dead," the older ghost then said, 
with a sweet smile. "And now that all differences 
are so pleasantly made up, it remains for us only to 
bid you farewell. And since Brother Harold can 
now rest in his grave untroubled by any idea of 
wrong from me, and I can sleep, no longer annoyed 
by the lump that pained my chest, it is probable 
that we shall never be aroused to visit you again." 

" But stay a moment," cried Uncle Ruthven, fairly 
15* 



174 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

touched at heart, and no longer remembering the 
Encyclopaedia. " You will not go so soon ? At 
least you will take dinner with us ? " 

As he spoke the ghosts had already begun to vanish, 
the line of invisibility starting at the feet, as before, 
and working upward until they were half gone. 
Then, for a moment, the line trembled irresolutely, 
and so began to descend until again they stood 
entirely revealed. It was as though a person going 
out at a door had indeterminately held the handle 
for an instant and then returned. 

" Moreover," continued my uncle, " I have apolo 
gies to make for many a past act of rudeness toward 
one of you." 

" It is forgotten already," said the crimson ghost, 
bowing. " What do you say Brother Arthur, can 
we wait a little longer ? " 

" A very few minutes, Brother Harold, if only to 
give myself time to make amends for an act of impo 
liteness on my part toward this other gentleman 
only last year." 

So they seated themselves at the table and the 
dinner began. It was pleasant to watch the old- 
fashioned politeness with which they conducted 
themselves the courtesy with which they bowed to 
Lilian at each word they addressed to her the 
grace with which, wishing to cause no remark, they 
affected to eat and drink. Not able to do so, indeed, 
by reason of their incorporeal nature, but all the 
time lifting the full glasses and laden forks to their 
mouths and dropping them again untouched. It 
was delightful to listen to their conversation, marked 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 175 

here and there indeed, after the fashion of their 
time, with a light oath, but bright and sparkling 
throughout all, with vivacity and wit. At first, 
indeed ; the time was somewhat occupied by Uncle 
Ruthven giving sketches of the late history of the 
family ; but after that the ghosts were encouraged to 
talk, and pleasantly beguiled half an hour with 
hitherto unknown anecdotes of the Court of the 
Merry Monarch. As I listened my thoughts natu 
rally strayed from the present back to the romantic 
past, and my imagination carried me, unresisting, 
into the olden days of the Stuarts. I was no longer 
in the prosaic nineteenth century, I was in the midst 
of a laughing, careless throng of king and courtiers, 
all busily making up for their enforced deprivations 
during the sombre period of the Commonwealth. 
Hamilton and Nelly Gwynn, De Grammont and 
Villiers and Frances Stewart, these and others of 
those long dead disreputables, whose actions may 
not have been comely but whose names live vividly 
in story, and to whose memories some glamor of 
romance still kindly attaches us, now crowded around 
and made the past a reality and the present a mere 
unstable myth. In the hallucination of the moment 
even the portrait of the poor old card-cheating Beat 
rice Grantley seemed to in vest itself with something of 
her long-departed youthf ulness ; and as the mingled 
gleam of wax-lights and yule log flickered upon it, 
it was as th ugh some hitherto unnoted beauties of 
expression came to the surface, and the whole coun 
tenance became once more aglow with that youthful 
loveliness which, doubtless, in the time of it and 



176 THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 

during her occasional visits to the Court, must have 
enticed Charles himself awhile from his more stable 
attachments in order to enjoy passing flirtation 
with her. 

" A joyous Court, indeed ; and sadly now coming 
to my memory as I feel that I can never mingle with 
it more," said the purple ghost. " A Court to which 
I know that my fair young kinswoman would have 
done ample honor, could she have been there," he 
added, bowing to Lilian ; " even more abundantly, 
indeed, than Cousin Beatrice. Growing old with 
more grace and dignity than did Beatrice, I am very 
sure. And that she may live to grow old in such 
gentle manner, let her take heed and not make my 
sad mistake." 

As he spoke, he pointed significantly to the Lan 
caster diamond which chanced at that moment to be 
beside her plate, and, by a singular coincidence, among 
a little pile of filberts. 

" Yet I am sure," he added, still with the courtly 
manner of his period, "that such sweet lips could 
never make mistake about any thing. Rather should 
the diamond, with its appropriate mate, be reserved 
to grace those beauteous ears." 

" Its mate, do you say ? " I remarked ; not sure, for 
the moment, but that the young ghost had swalloAved 
two diamonds, and that I had not carried my 
researches far enough. 

" Yes, its mate," he said. " Surely you must know ? 
Not so, indeed ? Well, there were two of these 
great diamonds, the Lancaster and the York. 
They had come into possession of one family through 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 177 

union of adherents of those two rival parties, and 
thence into our own line, through subsequent alliance 
of that family with the Grantleys. In Cromwell s 
time, the diamonds were hidden in separate places 
to preserve them from confiscation, the knowledge 
of those places being handed down only by word of 
mouth, for greater security. At the Restoration, I 
alone knew the secret. At the time of my death I had 
already brought the Lancaster diamond to light, as 
you are well aware. The York still remains hidden. 
Permit us now, my brother and myself, to offer it to 
you as our joint Christmas present. You will find it 
in a little metal box close beside 

At that very moment it chanced that a small ban 
tam rooster outside the window set up a crow. It 
was a miserable little banty, scarcely half fledged. 
It had a drooping wing, and a twisted toe; and for 
these defects and others, perhaps, which we had not 
noticed, was constantly driven away from the general 
society of the poultry-yard. Even the hens were 
accustomed to pick at it. Its crow was weak, and 
piping, like a school-boy s first attempt at whistling. 
Nor was this the hour of midnight or early dawn, 
but merely seven in the evening. There seemed no 
reason why any ghost with self-respect should be 
moved by such a feeble crow from such a despicable 
source, and at such an early hour. And yet there 
may be a certain, inflexible rule for well-constituted 
ghosts; and perhaps, in cock-crowing, the line cannot 
easily be drawn between different styles. Be that as 
it may, at the very first pretense of sound from the 
little banty, the ghost stopped speaking, gazed inquir- 



178 



THE GHOSTS AT GRANTLEY. 



ingly at his brother and received an answering nod; 
and then without another word they slowly faded 
away. 

" Ghosts are so ridiculous ! " said Lilian. But I 
thought that as she gazed at the Lancaster diamond 
and reflected how well the two Christmas gifts would 
have looked if worn together, she seemed sadly dis 
appointed that the little banty had not put off his 
crowing for a minute longer. 




THE SECRET OF APOLLOPS SEPTRIO. 



was Christmas eve, and I sat before the broad 
kitchen fire ; and there, as I stirred up the rich 
yellow fluid in the iron pot, which swung- over the 
coals in front of me, I mused upon the realities of 
the past and the possibilities of the future. The 
hour was late ; and the hands of the clock pointing 
towards twelve, showed, that, in a moment or two, 
Christmas eve would be over,- and Christmas day 
begun. From out my lattice window, and through 
the naked branches of the village elms, I could see 
the old stone church, with its queer little square 
belfry lit up, in readiness for the sexton to chime 
forth the midnight Christmas carol ; while round the 
porch clustered a group of small urchins, waiting in 
breathless expectation to take their part in ringing 
out the peal. And in a moment more the sexton, 
with keys in one hand and lantern in the other, came 
struggling through the snow, on his way to the 
church. He was old and infirm, and could with 
difficulty plod along; and I wondered how he could 
ring in as a joyous thing that Christmas, which, in 
all probability, would be his last. But for all that, 
he seemed cheerful enough ; and though in general 
he was a surly fellow, yet, as he now .answered the 
welcoming shout of the urchin group, there was a 
16 



182 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTKIO. 

very pleasant and lively tone to his cracked and 
husky old voice. And while I thought upon his 
shortened tenure of life, and the possibility that for 
me there might be laid up a long and useful career, 
the liquid before me suddenly boiled over the edge 
of the pot, and began to drop hissing upon the coals 
below. 



When, in the six hundred and seventy-third year 
of his life, the celebrated Apollonius Septrio wrote 
out his method of prolonging human existence to an 
indefinite period, the agents of the Inquisition seized 
him, and, after a hasty trial, he was condemned as a 
sorcerer. " Thou pretendest to have lived over six 
hundred years, and to be able to live a thousand," 
said the Grand Inquisitor, when the sentence was 
pronounced ; " we will now try whether thy words 
and doctrine are true. If they be true, thou needst 
not fear us, for we will be unable to kill thee. If, 
on the contrary, thy doctrine is not sufficient to save 
thee, then hast thou practiced abominations, and 
deservest to die." So Apollonius was led away to 
the stake and fagots, where he miserably perished. 

But in spite of all that was said and done, Apol 
lonius Septrio was no sorcerer. There was no taint 
of quackery or deceit in his process. Neither did it 
derive importance from cabalistic machinery, or 
spiritual invocations, or any of the thousand methods 
whereby unlettered visionaries have been wont to 
delude the public, and confuse their own minds in 
vain attempts to control the steady step of death. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 183 

Apollonius had merely drawn conclusions from cer 
tain well established laws of vitality, and thereby had 
enabled himself to employ nature to Control his own 
organization ; that was all. He had reasoned that 
the human body was subject to a constant waste, 
which, if allowed to continue without interruption, 
would result in its destruction, otherwise called 
death; that this waste might be retarded or accele 
rated by the observance of peculiar rules in the use 
of air, exercise, or food, whereby what is called 
death might be delayed or hastened ; and he had 
hence reflected that it might be possible, by natural 
laws, to retard the customary rate of decay, and 
increase the vitality which a healthy body is con 
stantly generating, so that the latter might neutral 
ize the former, and thus death be kept away for 
ages. And acting upon such reasonable data, he 
had finally, after long-protracted experiments, at 
tained success, and been enabled to enjoy a life of 
many centuries. But in his discovery there was, of 
course, no preventive against accident or violence ; 
and thus, in the end, it happened that his body 
succumbed to the tortures of the Inquisition, and 
his narrow-minded enemies were enabled to pride 
themselves upon having exposed the error of his 
pretensions. 

Of the twelve copies of his book, which Apollo- 
nius had laboriously written out with his own hand, 
seven were seized by the Inquisition, and destroyed 
with him; four were accidentally lost; and the re 
maining one lay hidden in the dusty recesses of an 
old Italian library, until exhumed by my unguided 



184 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTEIO. 

investigations. But I soon found out, that, to own 
the book, was not to possess the secret. At the very 
beginning, the* cramped and faded writing, in an 
unknown tongue, seemed likely to baffle me ; and 
three years of hard study elapsed before I was able 
to read the characters. And then a new difficulty 
arose, since whatever I read seemed to be the most 
unmeaning gibberish. For old Apollonius Septrio 
had been a jealous man ; and in his unwillingness 
that men should easily attain that knowledge which 
had so long defied his own unaided researches, he 
had taken marvelous pains to cloud and embarrass 
the meaning of what he wrote, in order that none 
but persons of learning and perseverance equal to 
his own, might ever hope to arrive at the grand 
secret. There were abstract equations to be worked 
out; difficult analyses to be made; mystical keys to 
be tilted to still more mystical complications ; and 
the whole so blended and woven together, that the 
loss of a single link of the marvelous chain would 
destroy all hope of ever attaining the wished-for 
result. And to add to the difficulty of the task, 
the rats of three successive centuries had attacked 
the little vellum volume, and had, here and there, 
nibbled away important elements in the calculations; 
so that additional analyses were often rendered 
necessary, for the purpose of supplying what even 
Apollonius Septrio had chosen to render clear to the 
comprehension. 

As I pursued my investigations into the volume, 
there had been times when I shrank back affrighted 
at the magnitude of the task before me ; and it 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 185 

required all my energy to induce me to persevere in 
what seemed a hopeless labor. At other times, how 
ever, I madly and defiantly dashed ahead, feeling a 
savage desire to learn the secret, even though it 
might prove worthless ; if I might only thereby 
boast to myself that I had not been foiled. And so, 
little by little, the mysteries of the volume began 
to be unfolded to my eyes, until, upon that Christ 
mas eve, I stood in breathless suspense at the very 
threshold of the end. 

For the little iron pot, swinging over the fire, 
contained the materials for the last analysis which 
would be necessary ; and if that succeeded, the 
grand secret would be my own. Anxiously I watched 
the bubbling of the liquid ; and as at last it boiled 
over the edge, I caught, with nervous hand, a single 
vialful. Tremulously, I then held the vial towards 
the light; tasted, and applied yet more severe tests; 
and then, leaping from my seat, dashed around the 
room in frantic joy. For the analysis was correct 
and complete; sight, taste, and smell were satisfac 
tory ; and now it was but the labor of a moment to 
run through the already developed chain of equations 
and the work was done. It was but a simple receipt, 
after all, that old Apollonius Septrio had discovered. 
It consisted solely in the use of a common little 
weed, which men every day trod under their feet, 
but which, though thus carelessly treated, was more 
valuable than mines of gold and jewels. For, in 
its dust-covered leaves, it had a wonderful power of 
bodily recuperation ; and having its strength drawn 
forth by occasional mastication, it would completely 
16* 



186 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

regenerate the wasting energies of the human frame, 
and thus insure to man as near an approach to 
immortality as could be rendered consistent with 
the frailties of an earthly nature. 



The Christmas-bells rang forth loudly upon the 
clear night-air, as the great secret stood revealed 
before my eyes; but what cared I for Christmas, 
then ? It was, after all, but an ordinary day to me, 
for I might yet see as many Christmas festivals as 
ordinary men see common days. For though there 
was nothing in that precious little weed capable of 
averting extraordinary dangers; though I was still 
as liable as other men to be struck down by an 
assassin s hand, or be crushed by a falling wall, or 
be torn piecemeal by a steam explosion; yet I knew 
that but a small proportion of meii met their deaths 
by accident ; that the great majority either died in 
old age, through the gradual exhaustion of the vital 
flame, or else succumbed to the power of wasting 
disease ; that the virtues of the little weed would 
not only preserve the flame of life in a steady glow, 
but would also nerve the system against fever, plague, 
or any customary form of sickness; and that, conse 
quently, there was no reason why I might not look 
forward to centuries of health and strength. 

" And less jealous than old Apollonius, we will let 
the whole world share in our discovery," I said to 
the young wife whom I had married during the year 
just passed. " All men shall learn to live as long as 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 187 

we ; and thus all men, in time, will become good. 
For those who are already good can increase their 
works and influence throughout centuries, while the 
bad will have longer time for repentance, and will 
learn, by more lengthened experience, how much 
better is the policy of the just." 

But when I attempted to promulgate my discovery, 
I found that the world did not seem to appreciate 
its merits. In fact, the world is but a bull-headed 
fellow, after all. There are times when it is simple 
and easy to delude ; and then any artful pretender 
can make a sport of it, and pillage it. But there 
are other times, when, fretted and soured with the 
consciousness of past deceptions, it will believe 
nothing, and trust to nobody; but with teeth set, 
and brow wrinkled, will scorn and trample upon any 
suggestions of value or benefit, however cheap and 
easy of application. It was in this latter mood, that, 
at the time of my discovery, I found the world. 
Only a little while before, crafty empirics had prom 
ised it all kinds of wealth, health and prosperity. 
It had been offered long life, easily manufactured 
gold; in fact, every thing which had ever been 
striven for, to make any reasonable world happy and 
contented. It had paid large prices for useless 
instruction ; had lightened its coffers to purchase 
vain receipts ; had discovered ruinous failure in every 
method which had been proposed to it; and, in the 
end, had always been soundly laughed at for its 
stupid credulity. So the world had relapsed again 
into an unbelieving state; and when I offered it the 

~ 

benefits of my discovery, it would have nothing to 



188 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

do with me. It mattered but little that I made my 
secret known, without demanding any recompense ; 
the world said that all such generosity was a pretense, 
artfully contrived to cover a trick. Some few, 
indeed, listened to me for a while, but only for a 
while. There was a score or two of converts, who, 
for a month or so, tried my process ; but when they 
found that no immediate result ensued, their zeal 
abated. They not only desired not to grow old, but 
also seemed to expect to be made young again; and 
when they found that their wrinkles did not fill out, 
and their bent backs become straightened, they grew 
angry, and, under the conjoined influence of their 
own indolence and the ridicule of others, pronounced 
my discovery to be an imposition. Others, again, 
discussed the subject ; not as one of immediate 
practical interest, but rather in a vein of speculative 
philosophy. Metaphysicians derided it ; pulpits 
fulminated against it as a wicked perversion of 
human talent, if true, being an infringement of the 
divine law which limited life to three-score years 
and ten; statisticians exclaimed against any thought 
of such a change of nature s laws, as would, in time, 
lead to too dense a population upon the world. In 
fine, all men had their kick at the discovery. All 
classes denied the merits or practicability of it; and 
at the same time, in speculative vein asserted, that, 
if any such secret could be made, it would be either 
wicked, unwise, or inconsiderate. And finally, a 
famous college of physicians took up the subject; 
plucked up a bushel of the little weeds, placed them 
in caldrons and retorts, analyzed, found nothing, 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 189 

made a verbose and inflated report full of high- 
sounding terms, and pretended to have crushed an 
error. The world read the report, tried to under 
stand it, could not, but still believed the conclusions; 
and then, as some new object of interest arose, 
forgot the discovery altogether. 



That is, all forgot it but a few; who, being my 
nearest relations, should have treated me with some 
consideration. But from the fact of their relation 
ship, they were my heirs ; and self-interest urged 
them to commit a grievous wrong upon me. The 
temptation was a fair one; the opportunity was 
favorable. I accidently discovered that they were 
plotting against me, with the intent to use my pre 
tensions as a discoverer, to my disadvantage ; to have 
me imprisoned in a mad-house, as one bereft of sense; 
and then to share among themselves my not incon 
siderable property. For the loss of property I would 
have cared but little, but the deprivation of liberty 
would have been fatal to all my prospects. How, 
in a narrow cell, could I ever obtain that little weed 
which was to prolong my stay upon earth ? So, in 
the right time, I gathered up such jewels and gold 
as I could most easily lay my hands upon, and fled 
away, leaving all my houses and lands to become 
the prey of those crafty people whom it was my 
misfortune to call kinsmen. 

Two persons only followed me in my flight. One 
was my twin brother ; the other was my wife. Why 



190 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

she had ever married me had been a wonder to many; 
sometimes, even, to myself. For I was forty years 
old, bent with toil and study, care-worn and wrinkled; 
and she was young and fair. Twenty summers had 
not shone upon her; and such was her loveliness of 
person and disposition, that those who had aspired 
to her affection might have been numbered by scores. 
Nevertheless, moved by some inexplicable sympathy 
of soul, she had rejected all the crowd of rich and 
titled and youthful suitors, and had clung unto me 
alone ; and now, in my misfortune, she gave the 
strongest proof of attachment which woman can 
give, by leaving friends and relatives, home and 
home comforts, and flying with me into exile. 

And hand in hand we three now wandered out 
into new scenes, where we were not known, and 
where the shafts of malevolence or violence could 
not reach us. We endured hardship and poverty, 
but we did not complain. Why, indeed, should 
temporary vicissitudes induce us to despair, when 
we could look forward to so much of hope ? For 
with me, both my wife and twin brother had learned 
to acknowledge the powers and benefits of the great 
discovery ; and, together, we all three daily ate of 
the little weed which could confer almost immortal 
natures upon us. And with centuries of life before 
us, there need never be such a thing as despair. 
Other persons, limited to three-score and ten years 
of life, might, after one reverse, sink back baffled 
with the knowledge that there would not be enough 
time left to them to enable them to repair their mis 
fortunes; but we could look hopefully forward into 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTKIO. 191 

the vista of coming centuries, with the full assurance, 
that, in the course of that long career, there would 
be abundant chances for the wheel of fortune to 
revolve and re-establish our broken and fallen 
position. 

And thus, in security of heart, we wandered about 
the earth, taking but little thought of chance reverses, 
but ever cheerfully awaiting the inevitable return of 
more prosperous days. And we moreover deter 
mined to keep our great secret to ourselves. The 
world had once rejected it with scorn; we would no 
longer, through misguided benevolence, subject it to 
further insult. Let men die, then, as of old ; it was 
nothing to us. We would live ; and as we saw 
generation after generation rise into the world, and 
after a brief flutter of existence sink into the tomb, 
we would hug our secret to our own hearts, and 
exist and care only for each other. 

And so centuries passed away ; and as we had 
anticipated, revolving years brought successive 
changes of fortune. At first we moved out upon 
one of the furthermost prairies of the West, and 
there awaited our own good time. Fifty years 
passed over our heads, and then that prairie became 
the location of a great city, and we were looked up 
to as its wealthiest inhabitants. Fifty years more 
rolled away, and the knavery of others stripped us 
of every thing ; and again we strolled forth to renew 
our fortunes. Then we chose a site among wooded 
hills, far away from men, and for a while lived con 
tentedly upon the roots of the soil and the water 
from a spring which trickled down beside our cabin. 



192 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEFTRIO. 

And soon rich mines were discovered near us, and 
again for fifty years we lived in affluence ; and yet, 
again, lost all. But why continue the theme? It 
is enough to say that each century saw us rich and 
poor by turns; that, when rich, we enjoyed our 
wealth in a rational manner ; and that, when poor, 
we hopefully looked forward to the certain return, 
in due time, of good fortune. 

And thus we lived, true to ourselves and to each 
other, while all things about us gradually changed. 
Costume and language slowly and surely altered. 
What was deemed right and proper at one epoch, 
was discountenanced at another. Great discoveries 
were made and lost again. Mankind, by toil, turned 
sterile provinces into smiling gardens ; and again 
w r ould nature regain its rights, and reduce all to 
worthlessness. Canals were dug through inaccessible 
lands, and navigable rivers were dried up. Govern 
ments also changed; and from east to west, in suc 
cession, arose republics, kingdoms and despotisms; 
each, in the opinion of its founders, being certain to 
endure forever, and each, in its turn, becoming 
finally dismembered, or overturned through force, 
faction or corruption. 

And with all these opportunities of lengthened 
life and unbroken health, did I fulfill my earliest 
dreams, and become a better and a purer man? 
Alas ! there would be few, who, with the fear of 
death so far removed, would have cultivated the 
noble, heaven-born graces of the soul, from a mere 
abstract love of virtue. And I was not of those 
few. It is true that I did not become what the 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 193 

woiid would have called a sinful man. There was 
ever in my mind an innate perception of what is 
right and proper; and consequently, the lapse of all 
those centuries seemed to bring me no nearer than 
before to the crimes of low dissipation, theft or 
murder. But still, though the outward man appeared 
unchanged, the heart within was slowly hardening. 
To live so long and see so many generations go down 
to the tomb, like insects of the day, while I remained 
alive in all my original strength and vigor, could 
not but tend to lessen- my sympathies for my fellow- 
men. What, indeed, were their swift-passing fears 
and hopes to me? Or how could I, a being of such 
superior attributes, descend to interest myself in the 
joys and misfortunes of their petty lives? So, year 
by year, and century by century, my heart slowly 
fortified itself more and more against all that might 
once have touched it; and though I was conscious 
of the change, and at times struggled desperately 
ao-ainst it, my efforts were all in vain, and the terrible 
process still went on with steady and never-ceasing 
progression. 



Fifteen hundred years slowly passed away. Dur 
ing this time, whatever changes took place happened 
so gradually, as, in the ordinary lifetime of man, to 
be almost imperceptible. JUit as we looked back 
and reviewed our experience, and thought upon all 
that we had seen and heard, it appeared as though 
the march of time had not been loitering; so many 
17 



194 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTKIO. 

were the events which crowded our recollection. In 
that time, we saw all Europe become effete and 
barbarous ; its kingdoms split into fragments ; its 
people lost to education and enterprise; its once 
vaunted cities falling into decay. We saw the 
American Republic gradually become too thickly 
settled to insure perfect unity of action, and then 
sever into diverse kingdoms, in which were enacted, 
as had once been in Europe, all the dramatic pro 
gressions of intestine revolt, gigantic wars, and vast 
schemes of feudal aggrandizement. We saw palaces 
built, and conquerors arise and load their cities with 
trophies, while they enriched their plains with the 
blood of their subjects. And still were going on 
those same warring elements, and mustering of 
armies, and crowning of kings, and invading of 
defenseless provinces, in aid of what was yet, as of 
old, the world s favorite dogma the preservation 
of the balance of power. 

And far off in the great Pacific, new scenes, or 
rather old scenes upon a new platform, were enact 
ing. For during all those fifteen hundred years, the 
little coral insect had been busily at work, joining 
shoal to shoal, headland to headland, island to island; 
filling up bays and choking up straits; until, where 
there had been only scattered dots of soil upon the 
broad ocean bosom, a glorious continent now began 
to spread out. And these people had settled, and 
invited to themselves the surplus population of other 
nations ; and great States had grown up, and united 
themselves for common defense; and each I ostrum 
echoed the words, " liberty and equal rights ; " and 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 195 

journalists pointed in disdain to the monarchies of 
America, and thanked GOD for their own free o-overn- 
ment; and statesmen predicted the dawn of great 
and free institutions spreading over all the earth, 
and, at the same time, cast a cautious glance abroad 
lest foreign conspiracies might hopelessly mar the 
bright prospect. In fine, we saw enacting around 
us, that great drama which had so often been played 
before ; and I might have smiled, were it not that 
there was something of sadness in such a picture of 
baffled human expectations, and the smile would be 
checked by unbidden tears. 

And I and my wife and twin brother were living 
in this great Republic of the Pacific. We were not 
near any of its great cities, however; for again the 
wheel of fortune had turned, and our lot had become 
that of poverty. And, accordingly, after our old 
custom, we had removed to one of the extremes of 
the nation, where land was cheap, and living to be 
easily earned; and where we could wait for fifty or 
a hundred years, if necessary, until the progressive 
march of civilization and improvement might make 
us wealthy again. Before us, and beating against 
the sandy shore, rolled the Pacific ; behind us was 
the dense forest. We had but few neighbors, and 
these were rough in manner ; but we were company 
enough for each other, and cared not for the society 
of other men. 

For the first time in many years, I was not happy. 
A certain inquietude weighed down my heart. For 
I saw that with the lapse of centuries, and the 
universal change of nature, mankind also had altered. 



196 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIVS SEPTRIO. 

At least I began, for the first time, dimly to suspect 
the fact. It seemed to me that those whom I now 
met were larger, more powerful, and more vigorous 
men than the men of a thousand years before. I 
was reminded of olden theories so old that they 
had been forgotten by all but myself which 
asserted the existence of a constant progression in 
the human race, whereby, during the lapse of ages, 
mere inert forms of animal life had gradually 
developed into man, and, in accordance with which, 
man might some day become developed into some 
thing higher. And, as I looked around, it seemed 
to me that this development was slowly taking 
place ; so slowly, indeed, as to be imperceptible to 
man himself, but obvious to me, who had for so long 
a time known the human race, and could compare 
myself with it as a fixed and undeviating standard. 
Could it really be so V And as I reflected upon 
the subject, a party of men came down from the 
wood, approached the water s edge, and prepared to 
cast a net. I attentively considered them, and saw 
that in stature they greatly exceeded me, that in 
frame they were more powerful, and that in every 
movement they made there was a wondrous grace, 
and in every feature superior intelligence. And yet 
I saw that these men were no better than others who 
moved about us; that if any thing, they were inferior, 
by reason of their rude and toilsome manner of life; 
that among the rich and educated of their time they 
would be looked down upon as beings of a lower 
order. And withal, how greatly even they surpassed 
me in every thing which in the estimation of the 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 197 

common miiul is requisite to make up the full per 
fection of man ! For, during these many centuries, 
while this almost insensible progression had been 
taking place, I, alas ! had never changed. When I 
had made my great discovery, I had reached the 
grand climacteric of life. In me there could thence 
forth be no alteration for the better; and all that the 
little weed could do would be to maintain me in a 
stationary state, and prevent further vital decay. 
The reflection burst upon me like a thunder clap. 
I reeled with the stroke of the new and bitter 
knowledge. 



Pretty soon, however, I attempted to reassure 
myself. I determined that I would not encourage 
such terrible ideas without further investigation. I 
had seen these men at a distance I would go nearer 
to them. It might be that some magical mirage, 
some deceitful phantasy of the atmosphere had 
deluded me; and that a nearer inspection would 
operate as a grateful disenchantment. And so I 
slowly drew nearer to the fishermen. 

And when I approached and stood beside them, I 
saw, with an increasing sinking of the heart, that I 
was among beings not one of whom did not stand a 
full head and shoulders higher than I. I had never 
been noted for height, to be sure, being only of 
medium stature at the best ; but even then I remem 
bered that in the days of past centuries, he who 
could overlook me by half a head had been consid- 
IV* 



198 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

ered a tall raan. But how different was it now ! 
Among those fishermen, who were certainly not 
aware of any distinct peculiarity in their figures, I 
was as a boy. And I could perceive that they looked 
disdainfully down upon me ; not exactl} r with an 
open sneer, but with an air of mingled pity and 
indifference just as, centuries before, I might have 
gazed upon a dwarf. 

How, indeed, could they help it ? They were not 
my superiors in size only; for the progress of human 
development, the truth of the theory of which I 
could no longer doubt, had given them precedence in 
every other physical attribute. I felt more and more 
sickened at heart as I contrasted my round-shoul 
dered frame, stooping chest, and care-wrinkled face 
with their athletic proportions and soul-lit features. 

A stone lay in the way of the net, and one of the 
fishermen carelessly raised it in his two hands, and 
flung it on one side. It seemed a heavy mass to 
move, and, by way of experiment, I attempted to 
carry it myself; but with all my exertions, I could 
only raise it a few inches from the ground. At this, 
a boy or one at least whom they must have con 
sidered a boy laughed, and unfeelingly pointed 
towards me. I was angry; but the young fellow 
could easily have thrashed me in a twinkling, and I 
was obliged to swallow my indignation. Ah, me! 
How blinded had I been for centuries, not to have 
before perceived that I was destined to become a 
pigmy among my fellow T -creatures ! Oh ! that the 
little weed which had endowed my life with contin 
uance had also given me the gift of progression., so 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP TRIO.- 199 

that I might at least maintain my proper place 
among the animated works of creation ! And see 
ing a bunch of the little dust-colored leaves growing 
at my feet, I frantically seized and thrust them into 
my mouth, with the silly idea that now, in my need, 
they might do what they had failed to do before, 
and by some miraculous power, as it were, enable 
me suddenly to retrieve my fallen dignity. But of 
course the paroxysm was an useless one, and merely 
served to cover me with ridicule. As the men saw 
me tearing the leaves between my teeth, in the same 
voracious style with which a beast of the field would 
pull the grass, they stared in wonderment, and 
finally broke forth into open laughter; and I, in 
confusion and shame, ran back to where I had left 
my wife and brother. 

" They, at least, are left to me, and cannot ridicule 
me," I said to myself, " and whatever progression 
may happen to mankind in coming centuries, we can 
always find some nook of the world into which we 
can retire, and there, away from the gaze of all 
curious eyes, contribute to each other s happiness as 
we have always heretofore done." 

And here, alas ! where I had most hoped for and 
anticipated comfort, I experienced a dreadful blow. 
My twin brother, it is true, remained unaltered like 
myself; but as my wife smilingly came forth and 
approached me, it struck me that she was taller than 
she had been when I first knew her. At that time 
she was rather small of stature, and reached but a 
little above my shoulder ; but now her height was 
almost equal to my own. And beautiful as she had 



200 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

before been, it seemed as though new beauties had 
gradually unfolded themselves until her whole coun 
tenance glowed with almost celestial charms. The 
horrible truth then flashed upon me ! When my 
brother and I had first commenced tasting the 
immortality-giving weed, we had passed the age 
when man can improve his system, and were hence 
debarred from any other advantage than that of 
preserving such powers as at that time we possessed; 
but she, being then still young, still growing, and 
still endued Avith the attributes of further develop 
ment, that power of future development had been 
preserved in her system, and had ever since been in 
full and constant operation ! 

I staggered against a tree, and then fell at its foot 
in all the wildness of despair. The sudden light 
upon my soul seemed to crush me into nothingness. 
Why, after so many centuries of blissful ignorance, 
during which I had so accustomed myself to her 
that no alteration in her form or features had struck 
upon my attention, and made me suspect the wretched 
truth why was I now to be thus rudely enlight 
ened, and made miserable? And how long, while I 
would thus remain an unimproving landmark of the 
past, would she continue to preserve those wonder 
ful attributes of constant progression, and century 
by century find an ever-widening distance between 
us? Forever, I could not doubt. The law which 
my discovery had once called into activity, it was 
now beyond my power to restrain. Frantically, 
therefore, as I gazed forward into coming centuries, 
I exclaimed: 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 201 

" You will not you will not ever leave me ? " 
" Leave you ? " she cried, with a sweet look of 
affection, in which I could see was mingled an 
expression of doubt and surprise. " Why talk of 
having me leave you? Have I not followed your 
fortunes for fifteen hundred years ? " 



But how can mere protestations of affection cheer 
a doubting heart V Though I knew that my wife 
cared only for me, I could not but tremble at the 
thought that perhaps she merely loved because her 
eyes were sealed to the truth, as mine had so recently 
been. What would she think, when she came to know 
the reality which some day would surely be forced 
upon her when she should discover that around 
us moved and breathed other men to whom, in every 
manly quality, I bore no other proportion than that 
of the court-dwarf to the stalwart warriors who 
crowd the audience-chamber when she should 
learn the truth about herself, and know that each 
century the void between us was widening, and that 
she was throwing away upon a poor puny abstraction 
of a man these treasures of beauty and affection 
which might bind in chains the soul of a conqueror? 
The time will come, I reflected, when the dreadful 
truth can no longer be concealed from her. She 
does not now perceive it ; but neither did I until a 
chance moment awakened my attention to the fact, 
and led me to compare myself with other men about 
me. That moment of comparison and examination 



202 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIVS SEPTRIO. 

may any day come to her, and then, then how can I 
dare to stand before her ? She will despise me 
will accuse me of long-continued deception will 
spurn me from her will leave me for others, who, 
in truth, will be more worthy of her than I ; and I 
will be obliged to creep alone about the earth, envy 
ing the superior powers and attributes of all whom 
I meet a scorn and derision to all and seeking 
in vain for comfort or companionship. 

And I resolved that the unhappy day of trial 
should be postponed for years, for centuries, if 
intrigue and cunning could be of any avail. I would 
retire from even this thinly populated coast; for I 
feared that the sight of merely those few fishermen 
might awaken terrible comparisons in her breast, as 
it had in mine. I would take her away, even into 
the dark forest, where she could see no human beings 
besides my brother and myself. Xo man should 
come near to tempt her thoughts to odious distinc 
tion, but I would ever remain at her side, and wait 
upon her as a slave ; and she should never learn that 
I was in any respect more unlike the men around us 
than I had been fifteen hundred years before. And 
if she chanced to pine under such forced seclusion, 
and to desire any other society, I would leave her 
hidden in some dark cavern, and would search the 
world to collect together its most feeble and most 
puny offspring ; and I would bring them to her, and 
tell her that all things had retrograded, until at last 
I had become a giant among my fellows. She would 
believe me, as she had ever yet done; and then in 
the mazes of the forest we would hold our mimic 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 203 

court, and in the midst of those few selected outcasts, 
I might still, by comparison, hope to retain her 
affection. 

So I told her that we must mo ve away; that we 
had become yet poorer than before; that we could 
no longer afford to stay upon the borders of the 
ocean; that we must betake ourselves to the inland 
country, and there, in that less expensive region, 
commence a new struggle for wealth. She listened 
with surprise ; for upon the previous day I had been 
telling her of the little that we needed to exist upon, 
since our small cabin and the spot of land about it 
were our own, and the earth gave us its fruits and 
the sea its fish without cost. All this I had told her 
but a few hours before; and we had grown to love 
our place, and the murmur of the waves, and the 
rustle of the vines ; and had anticipated leading 
many years of quiet blissfulness in that little nook. 
But she had learned to shape her will in all things 
with mine; and so, without a word of remonstrance, 
she gave a single farewell longing glance upon 
cottage and hill and ocean beach, and prepared to 
follow me into the forest. 

So far all was well ; and it only remained for me 
to consult my brother upon the subject. I antici 
pated considerable objection from him, for I imagined 
that he also had learned to love our present location. 
But, to my surprise, he readily consented to depart 
with us. 

" Anywhere, everywhere, and at once ! " he 
exclaimed. "I shall be satisfied with any lot, so 
lone; as we may leave this dreadful coast ! " 



204 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

"Why, how now?" I said in astonishment. 
" What has so suddenly disgusted you?" 

" Is it not enough," he fiercely rejoined, " to find 
ourselves yearly growing more and more unlike the 
rest of our species ? To know that the time may 
come when, in comparison with others, we may be 
but as apes, or even something worse?" 

Then you have noticed that change?" I sadly 
inquired. " And when ? " 

" Years ago," he said. " But at the time I made 
no remarks, since you still seemed to be unconscious 
of it. But now that you know it all, let us depart. 
Let us fly into the deepest shades of the thicket 
to the bottom of a well, even if by doing so we 
may never again see the hated faces of men ! " 



So we wandered away, and, after many days, 
found a location fit for our purpose. It was a cave 
by the side of a mountain-stream, and in every 
direction nature brought forth its supporting fruits 
without requiring the labor of man. There was no 
city, town, village, or hamlet near. For miles in 
every direction lay the dense forest, unbroken by 
the. axe or plough, and untrodden by the foot of 
man. And there we placed our lot, and I innocently 
trusted that in such seclusion I could preserve my 
huppiness; nor ever dreamed that in the midst of 
that peace and fancied security, trouble was coming 
upon me with rapid strides. 

I had noticed that for some weeks my brother had 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS &EPTRIO. 205 

been becoming more and more fretful and moody; 
and one day, upon his return from a long and listless 
wandering, he approached me and said: 

"Do you know that there are rneji near us? A 
village has sprung up but a few miles to our right. 
I saw it to-day, as I returned." 

" A village ! " I exclaimed in affright. " Then we 
must move still further into the forest." 

" We must do no such thing ! " he exclaimed, 
imperiously. " I have had enough of this. I thought 
that I could endure it patiently, but now find that I 
cannot. And I will not ! I must now and then 
look upon the faces of my fellow-men, or this solitude 
will craze me. Yes though it be with fear and 
jealousy though all men may look down upon me 
with contempt yet I cannot consent to live on and 
see no human face again." 

" You can look upon my wife and myself," I said. 
" It is enough for her and me that we three are 
together. Why cannot you also be content ?" 

"Are we the same, then?" he hissed forth in 
sudden anger. "Have you not just stated that you 
have a wife ? And will she not always cling to you, 
even if all the world should desert you ? Have you 
not her love and sympathy to console you in your 
obscurity ? Why then need you ever pine for the 
world ? But, on the contrary, what am I ? Who 
cares forme in my loneliness ? And how can the 
mere friendship of two persons recompense me for 
the loss of all besides? Harkee, brother!" he 
added, seixing me by the shoulder with a strong 
grasp. " You are learned and wise. Get you to 
18 



206 THK SECRET OF APOLLONIOS SEPTRIO. 

work and devise some means to break this spell of 
unprogressive life, so that we also may find ourselves 
subject to the operations of a constant development, 
and thus keep pace with our fellow-creatures." 

" It cannot be," I mournfully answered. " If it 
could be done, would I not do it? Even Apollonius 
Scptrio could not have done it, and he was wiser 
than I. But be content. At the very least I have 
given you life." 

"And what is the worth of a life like this?" he 
fiercely exclaimed. " Take it back, if you will ; I 
care not for it ! It is but a load of misery to me 
now ! By your vile invention you have but betrayed 
me to endless torment that is all ! " 

And then more high words passed between us, 
until, in my exasperation, I took him by the throat. 
He shook me off, glared sullenly upon me for a 
moment, muttered some words about having his 
revenge and so we parted. 

The morrow was Christmas day. It was upon 
Christmas that I had discovered my great secret, 
and I had ever celebrated the anniversary as a 
holiday, to be devoted to social harmony, love and 
joy. Xow, afflicted by my quarrel, I determined 
that this Christmas should not pass without a com 
plete restoration of peace. At our festive board I 
would take my brother by the hand, we would talk 
freely and lovingly together, we would each forgive 
the harsh words of the other; and we would 
inaugurate a new era of tranquillity which would 
last unbroken for years, in spite of all un pleasing 
interruptions from the outer world. Accordingly, 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 207 

after a sleepless night spent in .such reflections, I 
arose early, took my rifle, and sallied forth to make 
provision for the day. 

About noon I returned, loaded with game, and 
pleasantly depicted in my mind the joyous smile 
with which iny wife would run forth to relieve me 
of my spoils. But no note of welcome came to my 
attentive ears, as I approached ; and, when I stood 
before our little cabin, I saw by the signs of struggle 
which met my eye, that a band of lawless rangers 
had roughly seized my wife and borne her away, 
leaving no trace by which I could follow them. 

Transported with grief, I staggered, and a mist 
gathered before my eyes. Suddenly I heard my 
name called from above; and, collecting my sight, I 
looked up. Upon an overhanging crag stood my 
brother, waving his arms to me with ironical greet 
ing, while every feature bore the flush of fiendish 
triumph. 

" Aha ! " he screamed. " She is gone now ! I led 
them here to capture her ! She is far away from 
here now, and where you can never find her ! And 
we are even at last, are we not ? You will now 
know what it is to be alone in the world. And will 
you ever again take me by the throat, do you think ?" 

Overcome with rage, I raised my rifle and fired 
at him. The ball struck the cliff below, and glanced 
harmlessly off to one side; and with another shriek 
of triumphant malice, he passed away from my 
sight, and I fell helpless to the ground. And as I 
lay there, the agonies of my mind were increased 
by the reflection that I had brought my deprivation 



208 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTIUO. 

upon myself, and that thus it was, in a measure, a 
well-deserved judgment upon me. For had I frankly 
told my wife that in the lapse of ages not only other 
men but she herself had changed, until I had become 
inferior to all around me, but that, in spite of all 
this, I was the same man that I had ever been, and 
had only suffered by comparison, and that I loved 
her as devotedly as before, I do not doubt that she 
would still have continued to pour out her heart s 
affections upon me, regardless of all external altera 
tion; and that, in our little sea-side cabin, and under 
the sheltering wing of the country s laws, we could 
have continued united for many centuries to come. 
But instead of all this, I had allowed my heart to 
feel distrust, had deceived her about my plans and 
motives, and had removed her to a desert wild, for 
getting that where man had no settled abode, law 
lessness could not fail to prosper. And I felt that, 
hard as my lot might be, my conscience could not 
hold me acquitted of all guilt. 



Nevertheless, I would not despair; and for years 
I sought my wife through every land and clime. 
And though ever unsuccessful, there was still a lurk 
ing hope in my mind that some day I might meet 
her again ; that she might escape from her captors, 
and that once again we might renew our past lives 
of union and happiness. But gradually even that 
hope began to fade. I reflected that she might have 
been slain, at the first period of her captivity ; or, 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTEIO. 209 

despairingly, have slain herself; or have been dragged 
away to lands where the life-giving weed did not 
grow, and there, in common with others, have become 
exhausted with infirmities, and finally sunk into the 
grave; or, what seemed infinitely worse, that she 
might have become reconciled to her life with others, 
and have forgotten me. In any event, she seemed 
lost to me for ever, and, as the only means of happi 
ness left to me, I strove to forget her; and if at any 
time, in dreams, I imagined that she might be think 
ing upon me with affection, and, in the hope of 
regaining me some day, be still sustaining her life 
of youth and beauty, by means of the great secret 
which I had taught her, I cannot say that the reflec 
tion gave me any real happiness. It seemed but a 
childish thing to look forward to a train of circum 
stances against which so many chances were arrayed; 
and I gradually accustomed myself to think upon it 
rather in a spirit of speculative philosophy, than in 
any vein of real well-founded hope. 

And so, with blighted heart, I still continued to 
live on ; almost mechanically renewing my life with 
the little weed which every where grew at my feet. 
And thus a thousand years passed away with its 
many changes. Were it necessary, I could tell 
strange stories about these thousand years; for what 
ever of great importance happened, it seemed to be 
my lot to witness. I was present when the locks 
which regulated the flow of water in the great 
Darien Canal burst away under the impetus of 
mingled tide and storm, and the floods of the two 
oceans swept together midway, with a force to which 
18* 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 



man could offer no resistance. I stood on the brow 
of a neighboring mountain, and beheld the roaring 
torrent, having once gained a passage, increase in 
force and velocity, and rush on, sweeping away cities, 
and ever widening its banks, until, in place of the 
quiet canal, there was a great winding strait of many 
miles in breadth, which feeble man could never again 
close up, and through which poured the diverted 
tide of the great Atlantic Gulf Stream. It was I, 
who, then first crossing over into Europe, discovered 
that, by reason of the different direction attained by 
that great warm current, those lands which had once 
enjoyed a mild and pleasant climate had succumbed 
to a new and harsh temperature ; until, in what had 
once been merry England, deep snows for ever 
covered the ruins of palaces and cathedrals, and 
further south, the pleasant Rhone and Garonne 
became coated with eternal glaciers. And I was 
present, when, in the great Pacific Republic, the 
mighty and crafty General Ogoo assembled his 
armies about him, and planted his throne upon the 
.ruins of free States. 

But of all this it is useless to speak. With mere 
events I have but little to do, for my eyes were fixed 
upon those other changes which mankind itself was 
undergoing, and which, more than the mere found 
ing of States and fall of empires, affected my welfare. 
For during these thousand years, I could not but 
notice that the process of human development into 
something higher and grander was still going on. 
As before, the great work was slow in progress, to 
be sure ; so slow, indeed, that single generations 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP TRIO, 211 

could take no note of it. For who, of all men, 
would know that in two or three hundred years the 
human race had gained an inch in average stature, 
or a shade of progress in mental or bodily accom 
plishments ? To the life of common man all this 
was imperceptible; but I, with my thousand new 
years, could look back upon the ages which had 
gone before, and with these recollections and my 
own unchanging self as an undeviating standard, 
could read, as plainly as though it were written in 
the sky, the terrible fact, that, though I had once 
been equal with my fellow-men, I had now already 
lost such equality; and by comparison with others, 
was assimilating more and more to the lower orders 
of creation. The thought was becoming more 
maddening every year. In the centuries gone by, I 
had left my happiness; already was I looked upon 
with scorn and pity, as a poor, misshapen, stunted 
creature; and looming up in the vista of the future, 
was what ? 



And yet, though beneath this everliving conscious 
ness of degradation, and fear of the trials which 
the advance of future centuries might bring forth, 
I had become timid and cynical, and felt my life a 
burden to me, I could not, indeed, make up my mind 
to die. Whatever might be my present misfortunes, 
I shrunk from courting the unknown mysteries of 
death. In life, I at least knew what my trials were; 



212 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

but who can gaze beyond the grave, and tell what 
awaits him there ? 

So I continued to live on, and my only care now 
was to disregard what might be spoken of me behind 
my back, and avoid present and personal insult. To 
do this, I knew of but one way, and that was to 
become rich. For with all its changes, I saw that, 
in one respect, the world had not improved. Science 
and arts had flourished; men spoke with wondrous 
self-gratulation about their advance in charity, 
education and religion; but still humanity wrapped 
its affections in gold-leaf, and bowed down to Plutus 
with the same zest and subserviency which they had 
displayed ages before. I reflected, that, as a poor 
man, I would be hooted at in the streets by boys, 
who, though but boys, outranked me in height and 
strength; but that, as a rich man, I would receive 
honor, titles, and adulation from all, even though I 
might, in my personal attributes, sink to the level 
of the ape. 

And so, having elaborated my plan, I commenced 
putting it into instant effect. Beginning with hum 
ble materials, I laid the foundation of my fortune. 
And from small beginnings, I was gradually enabled 
to increase my operations. In fifty years, through 
diligent perseverance and judicious investments, my 
name began to be heard more frequently in commer 
cial circles. Then as interest rolled in, and was 
added to interest, my wealth continued to increase 
in constantly accelerating proportion; until finally, 
towards the end of a century of care and anxiety, 
I was looked upon and respected as one of the 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP TRIO. 213 

wealthiest citizens of the great commercial centre 
of the sea-port of Tooxo. 

And then, in accordance with my long-settled 
policy, I began to make lavish display of my wealth, 
since I found that, however freely I used it, its 
accumulation would still go on. I purchased town 
and country-houses, where I lived in wonderful 
magnificence. My carriage, with liveried servants, 
rolled daily through the principal streets. Every 
night my windows shone with lights, and music 
sounded through my marble halls, where I enter 
tained, in sumptuous style, the wealth and fashion 
of the city. And of course I had the world at my 
feet, and every day new honors were thrust upon 
me. Xow it was my name which was needed to 
head a plan for some city institution, and thus give 
dignity to the enterprise. Then it was a post of 
authority, in the National University, I was requested 
to accept. And again, it was a title of nobility, 
which a grateful and admiring nation begged me to 
attach to my name. Everywhere the empire rang 
with the report of my wealth, and the story of my 
munificence. Everywhere men, to whose shoulders I 
could hardly reach, cringed before me. What, 
though at times, when I sat at the tables of the 
titled and powerful, I caught the stealthy sneer of 
some tall menial ? What, though in the public 
streets, derogatory remarks would occasionally assail 
my ear ? These were only the accidents to which 
all men were more or less liable. To my face there 
was nothing but compliments, smiles and adulation. 
My aim was nearly attained. 



214 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP IRIO. 

Great, however, as was my wealth, there were 
others who, in that respect, equaled me ; though 
tli rough prudence or closeness of disposition, they 
did not display the same liberality and magnificence 
in their manner of life, and thus commanded less atten 
tion. But to complete my triumph, and satisfy my 
own mind that I was clearly entitled to all the 
adulation which I received, I felt it necessary to 
advance one step further, and become, without 
question, the wealthiest man in the empire. And 
so I remained still at work in my counting-house ; 
and sent out my atmospheric ships to distant climes; 
and rolled up my shares in atmospheric roads ; and 
built new rows of magnificent warehouses. One by 
one my rivals in wealth finished their short lives, 
and their estates were divided among their heirs. 
Step by step my fortune became more colossal. 
And at length, after twenty years, I one day inven 
toried my vast possessions, and ascertained that, 
beyond all chance of dispute, there was no one in 
the whole empire who could pretend to vie with me 
in the amount of his wealth. And then I resolved 
to close up my business, and retire to a life of luxury 
and independent idleness. The next day was to be 
a grand festival-day in the city ; for on that day, 
Ogoo the Seventeenth, was to ascend the throne of 
his race, and be crowned Emperor of the nation. I 
resolved that the same day should also inaugurate 
my release from business cares, and my new life of 
magnificent leisure. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS !$EPTRIO. 215 

Upon that next day the sun arose without a cloud. 
At an early hour, the city was all astir with life and 
animation. The national balloon floated over every 
staff. Troops defiled in vast regiments through 
every street. National music everywhere sounded 
upon the air. In the parks were shows and exhibi 
tions of every kind. The corners of the streets 
were packed with crowds of people, all on the move 
to enjoy the great national holiday to their utmost. 
And I arose, and also prepared to take the full 
benefit of my first great holiday for years. 

First I opened the daily volume of news, which, 
according to custom, had been thrown into my door. 
There was but little in it to attract me, however. 
The first two hundred pages were filled with an 
editorial life of the man who was that day to be 
crowned Emperor. Then followed an article of 
thirty pages, in which it was attempted to prove 
that his name was a corruption of Oboo; which, in 
turn, had been corrupted from Obro, or Bro which 
was a further change from Brow; and that thus he 
was probably a lineal descendant of the great clan 
of Brown, which, twenty-five hundred years before, 
had almost overrun the earth, and which, by reason 
of its strength, had finally vanquished another great 
clan which went by the name of Kelly. Then fol 
lowed details of the proposed arrangements for the 
day; then a notice of an exhibition of antiquities, 
from the site of the once famous city of New-York; 
then an account of sundry political riots, a favorite 
pastime in which the world still occasionally 
indulged ; and after that came three or four hundred 



216 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIOS SEPTRIO. 

pages of the usual advertisements of the lay. 
Finding nothing very attractive in all this, I threw 
the volume aside; and as the stir and tumult in the 
streets were becoming every moment greater and 
louder, I strolled forth. 

Wending my way up and down, I finally reached 
the Museum of the National University, and entered. 
A little group was collected in one corner, and I 
approached and mingled in it. I found that the 
attraction consisted in two broken stone capitals of 
columns. At one side stood the Professor of Mental 
Gymnastics, who, by reason of his eight feet of 
stature, was considered a tolerably well-proportioned 
man. At the other side was the Professor of 
Ancient Languages, whose diminutive six feet and a 
half of height provoked many a sneer from the 
uneducated, but who, among men of cultivated 
intellect, had become quite a favorite, owing to his 
new translation of " Shakspeare," with notes, and 
his discovery that the ancient British poet, Hood, 
had been starved to death by King Peel, in revenge 
for the ridicule which he had cast upon a great 
national causeway, in an article entitled, " A Bridge 
of Some Size." The two men were now discussing 
the pieces of ruin before them. 

" These stones," said the Professor of Ancient 
Languages, "I have ascertained to have come from 
one of the public buildings in the old city of New- 
York. It was a building denominated the Exchange, 
which is equivalent to the word to barter, in our 
language; from which we might naturally infer that 
the place was a kind of market, where articles were 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 217 

sold for money. But that is not the truth, as I will 
show you. I find that the only articles there bar 
tered were what they called stocks ; and upon 
looking at ancient dictionaries, I see that a stock 
was an article of dress, worn about the neck. Now, 
why should people meet here, to barter away these 
articles ? There could certainly be but little profit 
in such an operation. I have hence concluded that 
it was a mere friendly ceremony; and that it was 
the custom when two persons met, after a long 
absence, and wished to compliment each other, for 
them to hurry to this exchange, and accept the 
ornaments from each other s necks." 

" Probably loner-established enmities ruisht have 

V O 

been made up in this way, and this bartering of 
personal adornment have taken place in the presence 
of mutual friends, in sign of complete forgiveness 
of the past," suggested the Professor of Mental 
Gymnastics. 

" The same thing has occurred to me," said the 
other ; " particularly as I find hints that these 
exchanges, as they called them, were often accom 
panied with peculiar ceremonies. For instance, the 
ancient writers make frequent mention of bulls and 
bears. Xow what could have been the object in 
having these animals there, unless for the purpose 
of sacrificing them, in order to give dignity to the 
occasion ? " 

The two men then gradually wandered into the 

discussion of a late and curious phenomenon no 

other than the discovery of a small native tribe, 

some of whom had wings of a few inches in length, 

19 



218 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

growing between the shoulders ; not of sufficient 
length, indeed, to fly with, but serving, in some 
degree, to assist and lighten their motions while 
walking. 

" I have of late wondered," said the Professor of 
Mental Gymnastics, " whether it may not be that, 
for thousands of years past, the human race has 
been in a state of gradual but constant progression; 
increasing in size, power and mental activity ; com 
mencing at a low point, and destined to acquire 
still more extended attributes, as, in the course of 
centuries, this continual development advances; and 
whether, in fact, these winged men may not betoken 
the approach of a new stage in the same direction, 
whereby in due time, though probably long after our 
day, all men may become winged. I throw this out 
as a new idea, and one perhaps worthy of speculative 
attention." 

" Nonsense ! " said the Professor of Ancient Lan 
guages. " It is not a new idea, by any means. Tt 
was first broached, three hundred years ago, by the 
celebrated Winklewink. Then, as now, the idea 
was considered too ridiculous to be entertained for 
a moment. All the remains of mankind, that have 
ever been discovered, assure us that our race has 
always maintained an uniform average standard of 
height ; while as for any additional mental develop 
ment, the writings of the ancient Americans have 
not been equaled, as yet, by any of their successors. 
Look at that little dwarf who, somehow, owns half 
the shipping and houses of Tooxo," continued the 
Professor, unaware that I was present. "Look at 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 219 

him, the next time you meet him, and then tell me 
whether you can believe that the ALMIGHTY could 
ever have made a whole race in such a form, and 
then have called it after His likeness ! The idea is 
too preposterous. Any child could tell you, that 
such a little dwarf, so far from being the represen 
tative of a class which has once existed, is merely 
an eccentricity of nature ; and I say the same of these 
winged men. They are merely certain accidents of 
nature monsters, as it were ; just as we have had 
double-headed camels in our fields, and four-legged 
pelicans in our barn-yards. They are chance excep 
tions to the general rule of humanity, and can never 
themselves establish a rule." 

I listened no longer, but slily slipped aside, and 
gained the street. What a terrible thing it was to 
be so constantly "reminded of my difference from 
other men ! I had wealth in abundance ; acknowl 
edged talents ; unimpaired health ; was noted for 
my liberality in responding to evei-y demand of 
charity, art, or science; and yet, go where I would, 
I could hardly turn a corner or enter a room without 
overhearing some disparaging remark, or some 
sneering expression from men who had no claim to 
consideration for any thing beyond their seven or 
eight feet of stature ! What, then, was wealth, or 
health, or talents, to me ? I would have given up 
half of these, would have consented to wander 
henceforth over the earth as a beggar, could I only 
become like other men; and through coming ages, 
be able to partake of their development, whatevei 
that mifjht be. 



220 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

Crushed in spirit and soured in disposition, I 
passed along the streets ; joining in the currents of 
the crowd, or creeping beneath men s shoulders, 
as I strove to walk in opposite directions. And so, 
passing through circles of exhibition-booths, and 
stealing between lines of soldiery, I wended my 
way, intent only upon reaching my own home, and 
concealing myself in its seclusion. For a time I 
was moderately successful ; but all at once, a sudden 
approach of cavalry from a side-street caused a 
change in the direction of the crowd. Unable to 
extricate myself, I was borne along with it ; and at 
length, almost crushed to a jelly, I succeeded in 
escaping from the confusion, by plunging into the 
open door of a traveling-trader s tent 



Observing my disorder and confusion, the trader 
politely assisted me to a seat, and allowed me to 
remain until I had recovered myself. And then I 
took occasion to glance around, intending to recom 
pense him for his courtesy, by purchasing some of 
his wares. But I saw nothing, except a small shelf 
of little bottles. 

" And what are these ? " I said. 

The trader feebly smiled. It was a gloomy smile, 
moreover, telling of disappointment and heart- 
sickness. 

" Why should I inform you ? " he said. " You 
will only ridicule my discovery, as othei s have done." 

But I assured him that, from my lips, he would 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 221 

encounter no ridicule, whatever might be the nature 
of his wares ; and after a while, I induced him to 
speak. 

"These little bottles," he said "contain the results 
of more than twenty years of toil. It is a prepara 
tion invented by myself; and it has the wonderful 
faculty, when taken into the system, of suspending 
animation for a long or short period, as may be 
desirable ; at the end of which time the patient will 
awake in full health and strength, as he had lain 
down. He will awaken, indeed, no older in body 
than when he had gone to sleep ; for however long 
may be his repose, he will lose none of his life. His 
life will only be postponed, that is all. In common 
sleep, the body all the while grows older; but in 
this, its functions are so suspended, that, during 
years, the system will suffer no manner of loss or 
waste. You go to sleep at thirty years of age, and 
sleep for ten. When you awake, though ten year, 
have elapsed, your animation has been so completely 
suspended, that you find yourself still possessing 
your constitution of thirty years ; and in reality, 
have still the ten years of life to enjoy. You may 
not believe me, sir, but my invention has certainly 
the power which I have claimed for it. No one yet 
has believed me, but on all sides I have been treated 
with ridicule. And yet, sir, I assure you that I am 
no quack, and would deceive nobody. This invention 
has cost me many years to perfect, and has proved 
itself to be all that it is asserted to be." 

Still feeling somewhat incredulous, I looked the 
man steadily in the eye, but could see there naught 
19* 



222 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIVS SEPTRIO. 

but sincerity. He bore not the slightest evidences 
of deceit, or of being engaged in the trade of quack 
ery ; while there were, in his face, certain lines 
denoting superior thought and intelligence. I felt 
already half convinced. 

" But admitting all this to be so," I said, " what 
can be the benefit of this discovery ? " 

" It has many uses," he said. " The man of science 
may wish to peer into the operations of nature, 
during future years ; while without this preparation, 
he would be obliged to live his life through in one 
coil, as it were, and at its end, of course, be no more 
capable of awakening to observation. The politician 
may wish to live his life in future years, instead of 
now, in order to observe the result of his theories of 
government. The poor man may desire to sleep, 
while his land increases in value, so that he may 
awake and find himself rich, without having been 
obliged to wear out the best portion of his life in 
toil. I myself, by way of experiment, once sus 
pended my animation for five years ; and when, at 
the end of that time, I awoke, there was not one 
gray hair the more upon my head. A single drop 
will cause sleep for a year, five drops for five years, 
and so on in proportion." 

I was still somewhat incredulous, but I remembered 
that there can be such a thing as being too unbeliev 
ing. The world had scorned my invention, and yet, 
for ages, I had been a living testimony to its truth, 
flight I not, then, do an equal injustice in ridiculing 
the results of this man s scientific labors ? 

" I must not forget to add," the man continued, 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 223 

"that, during the time animation is suspended, the 
bod} 7 itself is preserved from injury. The liquid 
endues it with a peculiar property, whereby the 
action of the atmosphere upon it is restrained; and 
even insects, and the beasts of the forest, will not 
prey upon it. The sleep which is produced is as 
secure as it is sound." 

Having but an hour before been scorned and 
insulted, my ruffled feelings put me in the mood to 
attempt any experiment whereby I might compose 
my weary soul to temporary rest. And I resolved 
to try the value of this man s invention. It might 
be a worthless deception ; but then, what would be 
the consequence, beyond the loss of the inconsider 
able gold-piece which I would pay for it ? It might 
be of such powerful nature, that I might never 
awaken ; but after all, what great affliction would 
the loss of my life of scorn and degradation be to 
me ? And on the other hand, it might prove to be 
all that had been said about it; and after a year or 
two of sleep, I might awaken to find the world 
grown wiser and better, and no longer willing to 
measure man by height or breadth of .chest or 
strength of arm, rather than by the soul within his 
breast or the talents within his brain; and then, 
what joy it would cause me to find that I had at last 
been yielded my proper position, among my fellow- 
creatures ! 

And so, moved by the strong impulse of the 
moment, I grasped one of the little bottles, threw 
down my purse in payment, and hurried away. 



224 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SKPTRIO. 

Through the city, which every moment became 
more and more crowded, as strangers from the coun 
try and neighboring cities came in to attend the great 
festival of the day ! Through the suburbs, usually 
so quiet, but now thronged with living streams, all 
journeying cityward ! So I passed along to the open 
country. I stayed not for coronation or military 
review. I had seen these by scores, and the ever- 
repeated pageant had no charms for me. My only 
desire now was to hasten away, and try the merits 
of the wonderful liquid, while the fever of experi 
ment was yet fresh upon me. 

Still I hurried on, through the suburbs, until I 
had gained the open country. There for a moment 
I paused to take breath, and looked around. I 
stood upon the top of a slight elevation, and, at a 
little distance below me, lay the great city of Tooxo 
stretching away towards the south for miles a 
goodly prospect of palaces, parks, warehouses and 
cath.edrals and overtopped by hundreds of domes, 
towers, and minarets. For an instant or two I gazed 
upon it. with a new interest ; for if the wonderful 
liquid which I held in my hand should be effective, 
a year or two would elapse before I could again 
stand there, and look upon that fair prospect. In 
the midst I could see the great square, with the 
coronation-throne in the centre, beneath a crimson 
canopy, and to be mounted by a flight of fifty steps. 
From every direction the populace was streaming 
into the square, in crowds ; and in one of the 
broadest approaches to it, I could see the head of 
the coronation procession on its march, with its 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS ISEPTRIO. 225 

flaunting regimental balloons, and its crashing music 
half deafened by the tumultuous cheering of the 
excited crowd. And away off to the south, was the 
open sea, studded with vessels. How many of those 
were mine ! I could count my sail-vessels by fifties; 
and of twenty huge atmospheric ships, which lay 
in port, at least a dozen belonged to me. And of 
the great rows of warehouses which lined the wharves, 
the tallest and broadest were my own. All this 
property I should, probably, not see again for a year. 
And what would be the excitement throughout the 
nation, when, month after month passed away, and 
I did not appear to claim my own ! And how much 
greater the wonder, when, at the end of the year, I 
should suddenly reappear, and drive back the crowd 
of persons who, by that time, would be quarreling 
for a share of those possessions ! 

Fearing lest I might waver in my determination, 
I now turned away in order to complete my project. 
It had, at first, been my design to lock myself up in 
a room of my country-seat, and there partake of 
this magic sleep. But now a new idea made me 
change my purpose. Search would, of course, be 
made for me; and when I was found in my own 
house, stretched in apparent lifelessness upon 
my bed, what if my death should really be conjec 
tured, and, in my trance, I should be buried; and 
finally awaken, only to suffer a thousand deaths in 
the sealed tomb ? No; I must seek out a spot where 
the foot of man could not come near me, and where, 
secure from molestation or injury of any kind, I 



226 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

could await, in tranquil safety, my gradual awakening 
to life again. 

About two miles from my country-seat was a 
high, rocky cliff. For three hundred feet, it loomed 
up almost perpendicularly into the air, and, at first 
view, was apparently inaccessible. This is what I 
should have thought, had I not been often induced 
to pick my way along its ledges in search of my 
little life-bestowing weed, which, in this part of the 
country, happened to grow only upon those rocky 
slopes. During one of these expeditions, I had dis 
covered a small natural cave, about half-way up. 
With but a narrow opening, which was almost hidden 
by external projections, it gradually increased into a 
roomy apartment as it ran back. Here, then, I 
determined to make my experiment; for here I con 
cluded that there would be perfect safety, from any 
chance of observation or detection. I alone knew 
of the existence of the cave, or the approaches to 
it. From above, it could not be reached at all; from 
below, only by a strangely tortuous path. Near as 
it was to the city, it is probable that, for centuries, 
no person but myself had ever ti ied to climb those 
sides; for the attempt appeared dangerous, while the 
almost bare rock offered no inducement in the way 
of fruit or flowers or verdure. Even the stone itself 
was unfit for building purposes, and would probably 
never be touched; while the solid sides of the cavern 
would defy the shocks of earthquakes to disturb 
them. And therefore, in the fullest confidence of 
security, I laboriously climbed the ascent; and at 
last, after an hour of toil, stood within the cave. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP TRIO. 227 

Here, then, I prepared for my long sleep. I first 
removed from the interior of the cave all insects or 
vermin which might injure me during my helpless 
state; for I considered it best not to trust too 
strongly to the promises of immunity which the 
trader had held out to me. Then I piled up a few 
loose stones, in order more effectually to conceal the 
mouth of the cave, and prevent even the birds of 
the air from entering to make it their habitation. 
After which I spread out my cloak upon the rocky 
floor, and, lying down upon it, wrapped myself 
warmly in its folds. And then, drawing forth the 
little bottle of liquid, I uncorked it, paused for a 
moment in irresolute fear, and finally, mustering up 
all my courage, at one draught drained the bottle 
to the dregs. 

Almost at once I could feel that a gentle languor 
was softly stealing over me. I knew that it was the 
commencement of the effects of the draught ; but 
one of its qualities seemed to be the stimulation of 
hope, and I felt not afraid. A happy, even temper 
was produced within me, and I lay awaiting the 
result of the experiment as calmly as though I were 
merely about to take a night s rest. And while I 
thus lay, and felt the drowsy influence upon my 
senses slowly increasing, I chanced to rest my eyes 
upon the label of the bottle, containing its directions 
for use. 

Horror upon horrors! I had forgotten to observe 
the relative proportions of the liquid ! Instead of 
the single drop, for a single year, I had drank the 
whole enough to lay me into a sleep of thousands 



228 THE SECKET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

of years ! At the dreadful discovery I tried to 
arouse myself, and struggle against the drowsy 
influence, but it was too late ! My limbs had already 
become paralyzed; and in a moment more my senses 
left me! 



When I awoke, it seemed as though I had slept 
but an hour. At first, I was inclined to curse the 
inventor of the liquid potion, for his deception upon 
me, whereby I had been put to much toil and incon 
venience, without arriving at any practical result. 
My next impulse was to fall down upon my knees, 
and return thanks for being delivered from the fate 
of an almost eternal unconsciousness. 

In doing so, an astounding fact overwhelmed me, 
for I discovered that I was entirely naked. But this 
excited only a momentary surprise. I at once con 
jectured that the artful trader had sold me a liquid 
which had the effect to drug me, whereby he had 
been enabled, during the past hour, to track my 
course, and stealing upon me, unaware, to plunder 
me of all my raiment. What gave cogency to this 
supposition was the fact, that the entrance to the 
cave, which I had carefully closed, was now open, 
all the loose stones having been rolled away. I 
resolved, consequently, to wait until night, and than 
carefully make my way to my own house, and there 
rehabilitate myself; and to beware how, in future, I 
allowed myself to be made the prey of designing 
impostors. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEP TRIO. 229 

I crept to the door of the cave, and looked out. 
Good heavens ! What did I see ? Where was the 
great city of Tooxo, with all its towers and domes, 
its palaces and cathedrals ? Far as the eye could 
reach were thick forests, covering up all indications 
that a great commercial port had once there existed. 
And what had become of the ocean, which had 
rolled its tide close up to the former gay and lively 
streets ? The ocean had disappeared ; and where 
stately ships had once lain at anchor were now great 
forests, stretching miles away, until lost in the 
horizon. And then, passing my hand across my 
forehead, the truth flashed upon me; the potion had 
but too well done its work. I had slept for centuries; 
perhaps for cycles. And during all that time, my 
clothing had rotted off my body ; the vast empire 
had gone to decay, as empires had gone before ; the 
cities had been deserted and fallen to ruin ; the 
forests had reasserted their claim to the ground, and 
stretched their wild arms about the vestiges of 
wealth and refinement ; and the little coral-worm 
had all the while been at work, and had extended 
the continent far southward how many leagues 
who could tell ? 

And where was now my vast fortune ? It seemed 
but an hour ago that my ships had covered the sea; 
my warehouses lined miles of the shore. Xow all 
was ruin and desolation. I was again a beggar upon 
the face of the earth ; even worse conditioned than 
the beasts of the forest. They had their coats of 
fur, and their holes to live in ; I was naked, and 

20 



230 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

without any means of subsistence, or any place 
which I could call a habitation. 

But at last I aroused myself, and proceeded to 
descend from the cave. The path by which I had 
ascended was now so altered, that I could recognize 
no single feature of it ; but by carefully picking my 
steps, I at length managed to reach the bottom in 
safety. There a piece of good fortune befell me, for 
I found sufficient wild fruit growing to satiate my 
appetite ; and moreover, a certain large-leaved plant, 
with which I contrived to manufacture a loose cover 
ing for my exposed limbs. Somewhat encouraged 
by this good luck, I took heart, and pursued my 
way with more cheerfulness. 

And I resolved at once to journey to the south 
ward, in search of the ocean which had so mysteri 
ously receded, and, upon gaining which, I had some 
hopes of falling in with my fellow-men. My first 
day s journey led me over the site of the great city, 
Tooxo ; but so dark and dense grew the vegetation, 
that I could see but little that might serve to tell 
the wayfarer that civilization had once there existed. 
At intervals, to be sure, I came across broken masses 
of overgrown ruins; but these were now only shape 
less piles, nor could I discover any means of deter 
mining to what building they could have belonged, 
or in what portion of the old city I stood. All was 
ruin and confusion. 

Then I journeyed on, still advancing in a south 
erly direction. I knew that I was where the tide of 
the great ocean had once ebbed and flowed; but the 
earth itself bore no indications of the change. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLOXIUS SEPTRIO. 23] 

There were little streams and high mountains, granite 
rocks and trees of an hundred years growth ; but 
not a shell or grain of sand to denote its oceanic 
origin. The change was as complete as though the 
continent had been planted there at the very com 
mencement of the world. 

Nor were these changes confined to the earth 
alone. When night came, I saw new alterations in 
the sky. There were different spots upon the surface 
of the moon. One of the stars, forming the Southern 
Cross, had shifted towards the West, so that the 
Cross had become like a wooden crane. And another 
of the Pleaides had entirely disappeared. Was I 
really upon the same world; or had I been conveyed 
during my sleep, to another one ? 

Still onward I journeyed. By the increasing heat, 
and the altitude of the sun, I could tell that I was 
approaching the equator ; but yet the dark forest 
seemed to have no limit, and day after day passed 
without a single human being appearing to gladden 
my eyes. There were strange and palatable fruits 
to serve for my subsistence, and thus I kept up my 
strength, and felt no want. I saw numbers of sin 
gular species of animals, but none of them seemed 
inclined to molest me. I was as wild as they, and 
they probably feared me as much as I dreaded them. 
I saw many places where forest glades, and rich 
prairies, and cooling streams, and delicious wild 
fruits combined to form lovely nooks, where I might 
have lived for years in idle sylvan luxury; and there 
had been times, during my past life, when I would 
have liked nothing better than to have pitched my 



232 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIVS SEPTRJO. 

lot in some such spot, and there idly dreamt on for 
centuries. But now I tore myself away in haste. 
The universal solitude and desolation filled me with 
such a longing for one more glimpse of my fellow- 
creatures, that I would have been content to become 
a slave to them, and submit to any degradation or 
contempt, if I might only thereby enjoy the privi 
lege of knowing that I was not alone in the world. 



And at length, upon the twentieth morning of my 
pilgrimage, the sound of the roaring surf burst upon 
my ear. Madly I plunged forward, and gained the 
limit of the forest; delightedly I looked upon the 
ocean, stretched out in boundless expanse before me, 
glittering in the rays of the bright sun, and, in all 
things, as unchangeable as the sun itself. I fell upon 
my knees, and poured forth my thanks in an out 
burst of emotion; in all my life I had never expeii- 
enced such a moment of intense happiness. 

Suddenly, while I remained in this ecstasy of trans 
port, I heard a loud cry, and felt myself rudely 
grasped. I turned, to offer resistance, but at once 
waw that all resistance would be useless. I was in 
the hands of a being more powerful than I a being 
of ten feet in stature black as a negro in complex 
ion, but having a singular beauty of expression and 
intelligence in his countenance, and having long 
wings, which drooped nearly to his heels. At his 
cry, a dozen others like himself flew down from differ 
ent points, and formed a close circle about me. 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 233 

They were not beasts, I saw at once. They were 
men, but men endued with higher attributes than I 
possessed. All at once the whole truth flashed upon 
me The learned Professor of Mental Gymnastics 
had been right in his theory. During all the past 
centuries, men had continued to progress; and the 
scanty tribe of what had once been called the acci 
dents of creation, had gradually developed into one 
universal race. I saw, with dismay, that my condi 
tion had become still further lowered by their 
advance ; and, that if I had before been looked upon 
as a human deformity, I could now no longer be 
called even a man. Even if my own perceptions 
had not assured me of this fact, the wondering 
expressions of the group about me would have satis 
fied me of it. To them I was a curiosity, a hitherto 
undiscovered animal. The few human attributes 
which I possessed were insufficient to give me a 
claim to rank among the men of the present race. I 
was no more like them than, thousands of years 
ago, the ape had been like me; and now they gazed 
upon me with the same curiosity with which I would 
then have looked upon an ape, and regarded all my 
attempts at conversation, in a language so unlike 
their own, as the mere unmeaning chattering of an 
animal. 

I knew, of course, that I could suffer no harm at 
their hands. Had I been an animal of any known 
species, I might have been slain for food ; but I was 
too great a curiosity not to be kept alive. I conse 
quently prepared my mind for attentions of a differ 
ent character, and, most probably, in the line of 
20* 



234 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIVS SEPTRIO. 

exhibition for pecuniary profit. And so it proved. 
When the strangers had sufficiently gratified their 
immediate curiosity, I was tightly bound, and carried 
away ; and in a few days, found myself domesticated 
in a large city. 

In a city as large as Tooxo had been, and like it, 
thronged with temples, academies and palaces ! In 
a city built and inhabited by winged men, of won 
drous height and ebony complexion, like unto my 
captors ! In a strong cage, in a public room of that 
city, exposed to curious gaze, with other cages, con 
taining wild animals, flanking me on either side ; 
and opposite to me, as a wonderful curiosity, the 
skeleton of a horse ! But of all these, I was the 
most powerful attraction; and thousands daily flew 
through the open roof, and, lighting in front of me, 
stared at me for hours. 

For a while my life was a burden to me. I had 
no hope of escape, could cherish no expectation of 
manly treatment. Every action, indeed, assured me 
how little trust I could put in my slight likeness to 
my fellow-men, and how little they would be dis 
posed to regard me as one of their own race. Their 
solemn, speculative, gaping scrutiny ; their laughter, 
at what they considered my grotesque motions; the 
air of patronage and curiosity with which they 
pushed nuts and meat and fruits through the bars of 
my cage; all assured rne how hopeless of recognition 
my claims to manly nature must ever be. 

At first I was sullen, and would only eat when 
driven by hunger ; but soon a better feeling came 
over me. It chanced that, one day, among the 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS ISEPTRIO. 235 

fruits and grasses which were thrust into my cage, 
I recognized a few leaves of my little life-giving 
weed. I eagerly seized and devoured them. The 
word then, of course, flew around, that an article 
which the strange animal liked had been found; and 
ever after that, my cage was plentifully supplied 
with it. Having thereby the means of preserving 
my life, I reflected, that, though escape might be 
impossible, yet sullen discontent would do me no 
good ; that by cheerfulness of conduct, I might not 
only increase my happiness, but also gain new favors; 
that, after all, there were many of these powerful 
winged men who were beggars, and would gladly 
exchange their hard lot for the comforts which I 
enjoyed; that if these strange people found much 
about me to wonder at, I also could amuse myself 
in observing them; and that thus, in finding such 
endless incitement to my curiosity, I might lead a 
life of tolerable comfort. 

And thus, resigning myself to my fate, I further 
reflected, that if I could learn their language, I 
might detail to them the circumstances of my past 
life, and gain many advantages. And with this 
intent, I went to work. By attentively listening 
and observing how their actions corresponded with 
their conversation, I speedily picked up a few words. 
To these I gradually added others, pretty much in 
the same manner as a child picks up his mother- 
tongue ; and thus, in a few months, I began to flatter 
myself that I could talk with my visitors with 
tolerable ease. And one day, I resolved, that, upon 
the next morning, I would make my first attempt. 



236 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

Just as I came to this conclusion, I heard a loud 
swell of many voices in the building, and saw a few 
men bringing in a bundle closely bound. And I 
gathered that the excitement arose from the fact 
that another animal of my species had just been 
discovered. 

"Put it in along with the first one," said the 
director of the exhibition ; and accordingly the 
bundle was brought forward, unbound, and thrust 
into the same cage with myself, where it crouched 
in the corner as though in mortal fear. It was late 
in the afternoon, and had become so dark that I 
could not readily distinguish the form or features of 
the stranger. And before I could find any method 
of satisfying my curiosity, the exhibition came to a 
close, and the cage was locked up, leaving us in 
still greater darkness. 



All night I lay awake, wondering whether any 
being of my race had discovered my receipt, and 
thus, like myself, had lived on for ages ; or whether 
there were still left upon the earth, nations which 
had not progressed like others, and to which I might 
escape some day, and find myself once more among 
my equals. At times I spoke to the stranger, but 
he answered only in gibberish ; proving that he either 
talked a different language, or, perhaps, like the 
brutes, had no settled language at all. At times, 
too, I ventured to touch him; but the only response 



THE SECRET OF APOLLOIMUS SEPTRIO. 237 

was a low growl, which warned me to refrain from 
further experiments. 

So passed the night; and at length, as the first 
glimmer of dawn began to glow through the open 
roof of the building, I began indistinctly to see my 
companion. He sat crouching in the corner of the 
cage, and glaring at me with a fixed and somewhat 
idiotic expression. He was naked, and, doubtless 
owing to long years of exposure, his body had 
become almost covered with hair; so that, even to 
myself, he appeared more like an animal than a man. 
I felt that with such a being, I was destined to enjoy 
but little pleasant companionship. 

Gradually, as the day brightened, it seemed to me 
that I had seen him before ; and as I traced feature 
after feature, the truth suddenly flashed upon me. 
It was my twin-brother, who sat mowering before 
me. And yet he was not like my brother, as I had 
seen him last a man like myself, full of strength, 
activity and intelligence. He had become debased 
almost into brutishness. Far from my control and 
example, he had not continued to cultivate his natural 
intellectual powers; and though he had mechanically 
continued to eat of the source of life, his mind had 
been suffered to become enfeebled and to die away, 
until but little beyond the mere semblance of life 
and manhood had been left to him. 

How had he contrived, during so many thousands 
of years, to avoid all those perils of land and sea, 
against which the little weed, powerful as it might 
be in other respects, could not guard him? Over 
what lands had he wandered ? And how did it 



238 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SKPTRIO. 

happen that now, at last, we so curiously met again, 
and in the same captivity ? 

And why, indeed, should he, a man of lively 
intellect, have suffered his mind to go to decay ? 
Embittered, like myself, against the human race, had 
he withdrawn into solitude, and there, from the mere 
want of association with others, been unable to keep 
his intellectual development in its proper tone, and 
thus gradually lost his natural powers ? Or had the 
change been a more sudden one, and been owing to 
remorse for the wretched piece of revenge which his 
passion of the moment had induced him to execute 
upon me ? 

As I reflected upon this last supposition, my anger, 
which, though buried so many years, had not been 
dead, burst forth in fever-heat, and I grasped him 
by the shoulder, and shook him with a force which 
he could not withstand. 

" Where is she ? " I cried, forgetting at the moment 
how many centuries had elapsed. " What have you 
done with her ? Tell me, that I may go and find her." 

No answer; but as I released him, he muttered 
incoherent ravings, and then settled down again into 
his beast-like attitude, and there remained gazing at 
me with the same watchful idiotic glare as before. 
I tried a new manoeuvre, and proceeded to suppli 
cation. 

" Brother," I cried, " we have lived long together. 
We have shared the same joys and sorrows. We 
should not quarrel now. Only tell me what you 
have done with her, and I will forgive all that is 
past." 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 239 

No answer yet; but seeing a few leaves of our 
little weed lying strewn about the floor of the cage, 
his eye lighted up with pleasure, and he began to 
pick them up, and chew them with a sort of mechan 
ical frenzy. Upon this, my wrath burst forth again. 
It seemed like a double insult to me, to sit there, 
unconfessing, unregretting that he had wronged me; 
and yet, all the while, to avail himself of the price 
less secret which I had taught him. 

" Tell me ! " I cried, again seizing him. " Tell me 
all, or you shall die, though forests of plants grew 
around you ! " 

Still no answer ; but drawing himself up, he pointed 
his forefinger towards me, with a sneering, contempt 
uous expression, which flesh and blood could not 
have endured. And yet there was probably no sneer 
or contempt intended. It was only an idiotic gesture, 
without thought or meaning. But at the moment, 
it seemed to me as though he had meant all that his 
action implied that he had recognized me, and 
was tormenting me with the misfortune which he 
had brought upon me ; and at once I lost all self- 
control. There chanced to be a loose iron bar lying 
on the floor of my cage. Transported with fury, I 
raised it in the air, and even while he sat with his 
forefinger pointed at me, brought the weapon down 
crashing into his brain. 

He fell at my feet dead ! The life which had 
been preserved so many thousands of years had fled 
in an instant. No mere herb could avail to save, 
after such a blow as I had given. 

For the instant, I felt overwhelmed with the con- 



240 TITE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

sciousness of the dreadful deed which I had commit 
ted. But I had then no time to weep or to curse 
my lot, for at that moment I heard the keeper open 
ing the hall. I had merely time to turn the body of 
my brother, so that the wound in his head might be 
concealed, and he appear as though he slept; and 
then the front of my cage was taken down, and the 
exhibition of the day commenced. 



In a few moments, over fifty people were standing 
in front, and gazing at me ; and remembering my 
determination to attempt conversation with them, I 
suddenly inquired: 

"My friends, what year of the world is this?" 

At this unexpected speech, there was instant com 
motion. One or two women, of eight or nine feet 
in height, fainted ; a dozen or two flew out at the 
roof, in hot haste; and many men turned pale, and 
staggered back in affright. But as I gradually 
reassured them, by a few pleasant words, and let 
them know that, in spite of my wonderful quality 
of speech, I was perfectly harmless, the crowd again 
collected about me ; and one who, by his appearance, 
might have been one of the wise men of the city, 
undertook to reply to me. 

" What do you want?" he said. 

"I wish to know how old the world has become," 
I replied. 

" How can any one tell ? " he responded, in a loud 
tone, and apparently as desirous of impressing the 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 24] 

crowd with his profundity as of enlightening me. 
" We can only tell that our nation is several hundred 
years old, and during that time, has been gradually 
elevating itself from barbarism into civilization ; 
but no one knows how many years have gone before 
that. But who are you?" 

I then proceeded to tell how that, it might have 
been thousands of years ago, I was a human creature, 
a citizen of the great seaport of Tooxo, and had 
there fallen asleep, and had only waked up to find 
myself seized and treated like a wild beast ; and I 
demanded my release. But the wise man only shook 
his head. 

" We can hardly believe such a story as that," he 
said to the crowd about him. " In the first place, 
though our knowledge of the past has been yearly 
increasing, yet we have never heard of such a place 
as Tooxo; and it is probable that no such place ever 
existed. In the next place, there have been no 
remains ever found, to indicate that mankind was 
ever any thing different from what it is now. More 
over, it would be attaching a derogatory idea to the 
work and intention of PROVIDENCE, to suppose that 
HE would ever create such a small, white-looking, 
wingless object as that, and call it after His own 
likeness." 

I thought of the time when the Professor of 
Ancient Languages, in Tooxo, had expressed kindred 
sentiments, and I groaned aloud. 

" I grant that it is a singular thing that he can 
speak our tongue," the wise man continued. " But 
what does all that prove ? Xot that he is a man, 
21 



242 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

but merely that PROVIDENCE, for some wise purpose, 
has created a brute with somewhat superior intelli 
gence; and that the brute thus created has had the 
cunning to listen to and learn our language, in order 
to impose this singular fiction upon us, and thus 
endeavor to claim relationship with our nobler 
natures." 

While he spoke, soft music began to break upon the 
ear; and, through the open roof, I could see numbers 
of people floating in the air, some remaining almost 
stationary upon their spread-out wings, and others 
engaging in a singularly beautiful dance. All were 
clothed in white, and new additions were constantly 
made to the party ; while new strains of music con 
tinually arose from different quarters. 

" What does all this mean ? " I said. " Is this a 
festival-day ? " 

" It is a day the tradition of which has descended 
for many thousands of years," answered the wise 
man ; " a day which has always been celebrated 
with mirth and brotherly love, in all lands, I believe. 
For on this day, it is said that our CREATOR became 
a man like unto ourselves, and for us commenced to 
live on earth." 

" Christmas day ! " I exclaimed. And as I turned 
aside, and saw the dead body lying at my side, I 
wept. Of what avail had been all the years I had 
lived ? On another Christmas day I had attained 
my great secret, and had hailed the discovery as a 
glorious one, because I had imagined that I would 
have many more years in which to purify my soul, 
and make me more fit for heaven at the last. And 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 243 

instead thereof, I had been growing, year by year, 
more hardened in heart ; and at last, upon a Christ 
mas morning, had ended a career of selfishness by 
murdering my own twin-brother ! 

" Listen ! " I exclaimed, turning to the crowd. 
" It may be that I deserve my fate, but my story is 
none the less true, for all that. Were he, who now 
lies there, only alive and in his senses, he could speak 
up, and also tell you who we both once were. But 
he s dead dead by my own hand and cannot be 
my witness. But hold ! " I suddenly cried, in a 
passion of ecstasy. " There stands one who can 
vouch for the truth of my story ! Ask her, and I will 
abide by what she says ! " 

For, among the crowd of spectators, I recognized 
my long-lost wife, who, all this while, by our common 
secret, had retained her hold on life. With her, as 
centuries before, the principle of new development 
had continued on in steady progress. She was now 
nearly eight feet in height, and darker in complexion, 
and, like the rest, had drooping wings; but in all 
else, in expression and in features, was unchanged. 
Though thousands of years had passed, I knew her 
in an instant. 

" Call her! Let her tell! " I cried, not thinking it 
possible that, even if she recognized me, she might 
shrink from acknowledging as her husband one who 
only had the social position of an ape. " She will tell 
you whether I have ever been a human being or not." 

She turned. I saw her advance towards me. 
Hope swelled in my breast. I screamed aloud with 
ioy. I frantically rattled the bars of my cage. 



244 THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 

And I awoke ; awoke to find my wife still small 
and fair-complexioned and wingless, as I had first 
married her bending over me. It had all been a 
dream ; and Apollonius Septrio, and his secret, were 
but the phantasies of a disordered brain. 

"Wake up, dear Will! " said my wife, giving me 
an affectionate shake. " You are dozing, and the 
syrup is boiling over; and if you do not stir it, we 
shall lose it all, and the children will not have their 
Christmas candy." 

I rubbed my eyes. Yes, there was the pot 
which contained no elements of an abstruse analysis, 
but simply a little boiling syrup running over 
at the edge, as it had done when I first commenced 
to doze. I looked out of the window, and saw the 
old sexton, lantern in hand, still plodding on through 
the snow, and hardly a step from where I had first 
seen him. Yes, all this dream of events, of thou 
sands of years, had occurred in a second or two of 
time! 

In a few words, I told my wife the substance of my 
vision. She smiled, and pointing behind her, said: 

" Why, indeed, should we care for such long life V 
Shall we not live again in these?" I looked, and 
there stood our children. 

Hark! at that moment the bells struck up! They 
were ill-tuned and cracked, and moreover were set 
to no particular air, but jingled to-and-fro accord 
ing to the strength and disposition of the old sexton 
and his juvenile aids. But somehow, on that night, 
there was a musical sound to them, for they seemed 
to speak of peace and good-will to all the world! 



THE SECRET OF APOLLONIUS SEPTRIO. 245 

" It may be," said my wife, gazing up with an 
expression of sweet serenity irradiating every fea 
ture, " it may have been no dream that you have just 
had. It may be prophecy." 

" Prophecy ? " 

" Yes. It may be, that upon some future Christ 
mas day, I shall really wear wings," she said. " But 
it will not be in this world, but in another and a 
better one, I hope. And if that day does come," 
she continued, " I hope that you, too, will wear wings; 
and that together we may live in that better world, 
never to be parted; and there continually gain new 
developments in the eternal progression of love, and 
joy, and holiness! " 




HAPTER . 

is my intention to narrate every circumstance 
of the story, freely, and without attempt at 
concealment or extenuation. At the time, it caused 
me many a heartburn; now that advancing years 
have gathered so much more closely about me, and I 
have become interested only in my professional 
ambition, I can afford even to laugh at the matter, 
as an amusing retrospect. 

It happened upon Christmas-day. It would have 
been a very sad trial and disappointment to me, if I 
had been obliged to pass the evening in the loneli 
ness and obscurity of my own lodgings, with no 
other society than my morbid thoughts; and yet, 
for a time, it seemed unavoidable. When, therefore, 
early in the morning, there came a dainty little note 
from Mabel Cuthbert, inviting me to dine with her 
at the Priory, my heart was wonderfully lightened 
from its depression, and my spii its gave a sudden 
exultant bound into sunshine. It was a pleasant 
little invitation, without the slightest tinge of stiff 
ness or formality, genial and winning, rather, in 
tone, as of one writing to a very near and trusted 



250 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

friend, and not to some mere chance acquaintance 
of the day. And it informed me that I was to be 
the only guest ; Mabel and myself, those were all. 
I was more disposed to feel pleased, in fact, than 
I had imagined the mere invitation to a Christmas 
dinner could ever make me. It was something, 
indeed, to escape from the loneliness of my bachelor 
quarters, with only my landlady, Mrs. Chubbs, to 
skirmish around, serve up my poor little chicken for 
me as the mere ghost of a festivity, and all the while 
keep a vigilant eye upon me, that I should leave a 
goodly portion of it for her own subsequent delecta 
tion. It was a great deal to avoid the subsequent 
brooding reflections, when every darkening shadow 
would be sure to strike into my soui, each moment 
becoming more and more fretful with the bitter pang 
of loneliness. But now that I was to avoid these 
troubles, it seemed to me a great deal more than 
any thing else, that my invitation should be to 
the Priory. For, during the past two years, the 
Priory had remained a closed residence for anything 
in the way of formal entertainment. Ever since 
the Squire s death, his daughter Mabel had lived 
there in the strictest seclusion, going nowhere, 
and caring little about seeing any one. In fact, I 
was known to be almost the only person whose visits 
seemed to be at all looked for or encouraged ; it 
having happened that at the Squire s death I had 
been the attending physician, and hence had acquired 
some vested right to continue my visits upon the 
footing of friendly interest. Now, therefore, that 
the seclusion seemed drawing to an end and some 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 251 

faint indications appeared of a return to the outer 
world, it was very pleasing to me to see that I was 
still the first person selected for social favor, and 
that I was considered worthy of encouragement 
for something other than my professional character 
and qualities. And moreover, for I may as well 
confess the fact at the very beginning I dearly 
loved to be at Mabel Cuthbert s side, and always 
felt my heart bound wildly at the slightest hint of 
any preference for me. 

Pleasantly humming a tune to myself, I started 
off on a little round of medical calls, lasting until 
afternoon. When I returned, I found Mrs. Chubbs 
in my office, washing the windows with great appear 
ance of zeal. It was an unusual performance for 
her on Christmas, or, indeed, on any other day; and 
I felt that the sudden fit of cleanliness was merely 
a pretense to open communication with me. I was 
not mistaken. 

" And so you are going to dine at the Priory, 
Doctor," she said. " And in course, you will be the 
first person to know all about it." 

"And how, Mrs. Chubbs, could you have ascer 
tained that I was going to the Priory ? " I responded 
severely. " Surely you have not given yourself the 
liberty to read my correspondence ? " 

There was little need, indeed, to put it in the form 
of a question, inasmuch as upon the corner of Mabel s 
note, inadvertently left by me open upon the table, 
was the broad impress of a soapy thumb. I held 
out the note towards Mrs. Chubbs, as I spoke, in 
token of the perfect knowledge that gave me author- 



252 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

ity to reprove ; but she was not to be put down or 
thrown into confusion as easily as that. 

" And what if I have read it ? " she said. " Do 
you think, Doctor Crawford, that if a patient comes 
after you, and I have charge of your office, and he 
says where are you, and I say I don t know, and he 
gays find out, and I have to look over your desk to 
see if you have left a paper or so about when you 
will come back, and he says look further yet, and I 
come across a note and think may be it will tell where 
you are gone, and when I read it, find it is only 
where you are to go this evening, do you think, 
then, that I can forget all about it again, and never 
remember anything of the past or of what is going 
this day to be found out at the last, Doctor 
Crawford ? " 

With a red face, Mrs. Chubbs descended from her 
perch, gathered up her pail and step-ladder, and 
stumped off out at the door, leaving the cleaning for 
another season, and, in her dignified departure, 
knocking the end of her ladder so violently against 
my skeleton-case, that I could hear all the bones 
inside rattle. And I, crushed and discomfited, and 
giving little further heed to what seemed to me her 
random, purposeless remark, kept silence, nor thought 
to ask what it was, that, at this last, was to be found 
out, and all about which I was to be the first person 
to know. 

Rousing myself after a little, I prepared my toilet 
for the evening, then again took up the note. 
For the first time I happened to notice, that through 
some inadvertence, the hour for dining was not 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 253 

mentioned. It might very well be five, Mabel s 
usual hour; and yet, to-day it might be later, being 
a special occasion. I was a little nonplussed, at 
first, but finally settled the matter satisfactorily in 
my mind. I would go at five, and would inquire 
at the gate-lodge for further particulars. If the 
dinner chanced to be later, I would ride on and visit 
old Mrs. Rabbage, returning to the Priory at the 
proper hour. Old Mrs. Rabbage would most likely 
believe that my white cravat and dress coat had been 
put on in especial compliment to her case; and if 
there were any real virtue in the imagination, it 
might do her rheumatism more good than all my 
other attentions. Therefore, at half past four, I 
climbed into my gig and started. 

It was a brisk, cheery day, not too warm or cold. 
The sky was somewhat heavy and overcast, with 
prospect of becoming more so ; but the atmosphere 
was bright and lively with falling snow, descend 
ing in large dry flakes, not offensively driving into 
one s face with tempest blast, but dropping lightly 
and softly, so that I could almost feel company in 
their steady coming; watching how they slowly 
melted away upon the bearskin robe tucked snugly 
around me, and how, beneath the gradual deepening 
of the fleecy deposit of those that descended in 
more favorable places, the ground and the hedgerows 
gradually turned to light blue and then to white. 
And jogging thus along, in wondrous pleasant frame 
of mind, contented with myself and all the world, 
I met Parkins, the brewer, driving home in his own 
light wagon. 

22 



254 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

" Whither away, Doctor Crawford ? " he said. 

" To the Priory, Mr. Parkins, to dinner. Not 
a large dinner," I added, in explanation. " Only 
myself, I believe." 

"Aha, to the Priory? You re in luck, Doctor. 
Was telling Mrs. Parkins that we ought to have you 
down at our place ; but now that you are going to 
do so much better Good dinners, always, at the 
Priory while the Squire was alive; and, likely as not, 
yet Well, one thing, Doctor ; you will be the first 
person to know all about it. I suppose, however, 
we ll all know, after a while." 

" All about what, Mr. Parkins ? " 

But before he could answer, his horse had started, 
and in an instant was half a hundred feet off. Par 
kins was not much of a driver, though he imagined 
the contrary In fact, he generally contrived to get 
nan away with three or four times a year. At the 
present moment, though he parted from me with 
elbows squared out and with a cheery " gee-up," 
and altogether great affectation of wielding a gallant 
rein, I could not resist an impression that the horse 
was moved with an instinct of Christmas oats ahead, 
and was in a hurry to get home and was moderately 
running away, and that Parkins could not have 
checked him, if his life depended upon it. Be that 
as it may, the consequence was a sudden separation 
between us that momentarily increased; and so my 
question was left unanswered. 

"At any rate," I now said to myself, not attach 
ing any more importance to the brewer s observa 
tion than to Mrs. Chubbs, " there is one matter, 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 255 

at least, about which I will hope to-day to know 
something." 

I have already intimated that it was the great 
happiness of my life to be at Mabel Cuthbert s side; 
and now, of course, it will be understood that I was 
thinking of my hitherto unavowed affection for her. 
For months I had endeavored to stifle it, but in vain. 
It was a love that had no cessation, allowed me 
no rest ; surely then it was about time that, even if 
I knew nothing else, I should have some knowledge 
as to whether my affection might be prospering, 
whether I was doomed at the end to relinquish all 
my hopes, or whether they would gradually brighten 
into sweet assurance. And what better day than 
the present, with its genial and inspiring influences, 
to learn at least something that would direct me to 
a knowledge of my fate ? What better time than 
Christmas-day, with its cheery unrestrained greet 
ings, to catch some unguarded indication peeping 
forth here and there, to tell me what I might expect ? 

That my hopes were well founded, I had gradually 
schooled myself to believe. To the outer world, 
unacquainted with all the circumstances of the case, 
it is true that my love for Mabel might have seemed 
pretentious, my attentions, a presumption. She 
was scarcely twenty-five, I was nearly forty. She 
came from along and honored ancestry, I could 
not go further back than to my grandfather, himself 
a village doctor. But, on the other hand, looking 
at the matter in the prosaic yet none the less practi 
cal light of worldly fortune, the Crawfords had been 
long accumulating, and my own possessions were not 



256 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

inconsiderable ; while the Cuthberts had been grad 
ually losing in estate, generation after generation 
parting with a field here and a quarry there, until 
at least half the landed property was gone. Half 
of the remainder even, was at that moment imperiled ; 
inasmuch as a chancery suit about the title to some 
five hundred acres of its family estate was now, 
after twenty years slow progress, drawing near its 
close, with the chances, so far, greatly in favor of the 
outside contestants. Moreover, as has been already 
said, for the past two years Mabel had remained 
in strict retirement, seeing few persons and in no way 
exposed to the admiration of the outer world, during 
which time I had been nearly her only visitor, 
coming almost daily in the light of a true and valued 
friend. At one time I had taught her what little 
French I knew, and often we had read to each other. 
It seemed, therefore, as though such exclusive inti 
macy must bear some fruit. I knew that I was 
always received with warm pressure of the hand and 
a sunny smile. Did that mean love, or was it mere 
friendship? I could not tell for certain, indeed; 
though at times I gazed earnestly into her eyes, in 
search of some fleeting, unguarded expression that 
might, of a certainty, betray the nature of her feel 
ings. But all the while my wishes had been teach 
ing me to hope for and believe the best; and it 
seemed as though there could not be a better time 
than that Christmas-day to ascertain, beyond a 
doubt, the real strength of my self assurances. 



LHAPTER 



JJ 




jogging along in hopeful, though not alto 
gether unanxious train of reflection, about five 
o clock I reached the Priory. It was not an impos 
ing building. In its best estate it had been one of 
the smaller and least known religious houses of the 
kingdom ; and since it had been secularized, every 
change in its extent and outward appearance had 
been for the worse. The quaint old bell-tower had 
been taken down, and the bell removed to a distant 
parish church. The chapel had fallen into decay, 
and finally been cleared away as an useless append 
age, not necessary to be restored. The refectory 
had been cut into several smaller rooms; and in 
doing so, it had unfortunately happened that much 
of the heavy carved oak wainscoting had been 
destroyed. Much of the symbolical ornamentation 
sculptured upon the outside of the building had 
been chipped away by a vandal owner of the place 
during the last century, under the idea that it was 
unsuited to a private residence. And so, little by little 
the Priory had fallen away from much of its former 
pleasant estate; in some places brick taking the 
place of stone, until it became a mere quadrangular 
building, without especial type or character, such a 
building as might have been erected within the pres 
ent century, after a design giving up everything 
to space, and sacrificing all ornamentation to utility. 

00* 



258 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

Adding to all this, the fact that gradually much of 
the land belonging to the Priory had been alienated, 
until there was now little left besides lawn and 
garden, and that the knightly title that had been 
enjoyed by its earliest civil owner had drifted off 
in some other direction, as titles will sometimes 
mysteriously do; and it will be seen that in her 
inheritance, Mabel Cuthbert had not become a great 
heiress or social power in the county. But for all 
that, the place was still known as the Priory, such 
being the permanence of English tradition; and, as 
will be seen, certain traditions lingered, about it, 
with a pertinacity that defied all influence of out 
ward physical change to banish them. 

Stopping for a moment at the gate-lodge, I looked 
around in every direction, but found no one. The 
occupants of the lodge had evidently departed upon 
some Christmas frolic, and the gate stood wide open 
for any one to enter who might be inclined. There 
fore I drove through; somewhat reluctantly, how 
ever, not wishing prematurely to present myself 
before the house, in case I had mistaken the hour. 
But upon reaching the end of the Priory building 
and before emerging into the exposure of its full 
front, there I saw Roper the butler, standing at the 
eide porch. And I beckoned him to me. 

"Dinner at five, as usual, Roper?" 

" At seven, to-day, Doctor, being Christmas." 

"Ah! then I had better make a professional call 
or two, and then return." 

" Better come in now, Doctor Crawford, and wait. 
It is not very likely that Miss Cuthbert will see you 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 259 

do so. She is in her own room at the back of the 
house, lying down and will scarcely come out until 
seven. I will send the gig around to the stable and 
smuggle you into the library, where she seldom 
comes, and will not announce you before it is time 
for you to come in the usual way." 

It was very tempting, and for the moment I gazed 
around irresolutely. Not so very irresolutely, after 
all, perhaps; for I must have had in my mind, from 
the first, some premonition of the inevitable issue of 
any conflict on the subject. The sky was becoming- 
more overcast, the snow was descending more 
heavily and was now deeper under foot, somewhat 
clogging the wheels and discouraging any tendency 
to further admiration of its pretty crystal whiteness, 

old Mrs. Rabbage s rheumatism would be none 
the better or worse, whether I came or stayed away, 

through the half open door I saw the i w ed flicker 
of coalfire in an open gate, reflected upon the wall 
of the hall outside; in fine, I hesitated and was 
lost, 

"I think, I suppose I had better do it, Roper," 
I said with a sort of half cough and an expression 
of voice as though I were reluctantly yielding to some 
requirement of duty. With that same impress of 
reluctance stamped upon every motion of my body, 
I slowly climbed down from the gig, threw the reins 
to a stable boy whom Roper beckoned up, shook the 
few snow flakes off my coat, and allowed myself to 
be escorted through the hall and into the library. 

It was a cozy, old fashioned little room. With 
the dining room adjoining, it had been cut off from 



260 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

the long refectory. In this operation, as has already 
been stated, much of the carved wainscoting had 
been torn away; but the loss had afterwards been 
partially replaced with heavy hangings of Spanish 
leather, and the original graining of the ceiling had 
happened to be retained, so that there remained much 
pleasant basis for picturesque effect. This had been 
increased by a broad fireplace of antique design, 
and all the paintings upon the wall were sufficiently 
smoke-dried and discolored as almost to defy scru 
tiny, and thus add to the general impress of high 
toned antiquity. Though the room was called the 
library, it did not rejoice in many books; for the late 
Squire was not a man of literary proclivities, while 
the studies of those who had gone before him were 
mainly confined to treatises on horses, do;s and 

*/ t O 

hunting. In fact, there was merely one small case 
of books, and those of such unprepossessing charac 
ter to the general reader that they were seldom 
opened from one year to another. But upon a small 
stand between the windows were a few volumes 
belonging to Mabel, in whom had sprouted the earli 
est recognizable evidences of family culture ; and 
upon the broad oak table in the middle of the room 
lay the morning papers and a few of the most popu 
lar periodicals of the day, Mabel s own reading. 
Tin-owing myself into a deep cushioned chair, I 
took up the Cornhill, and was about to lose myself 
pleasantly in its pages for the next two hours, when 
Roper reappeared. While standing at the side 
porch, he had been in a sort of deshabille, in no 
way clad differently from the inferior beings around 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 261 

him. Now, as the assumption of his official duties 
drew near, he had thrown himself into the undress 
uniform of black coat and pants. 

" Wouldn t you like a little something for lunch., 
Doctor Crawford ?" he said. "Just a little pastry, 
or a trifle of some such kind, to prepare for dinner V " 

It seemed to me a very apt suggestion. 

" I am not sure, Roper, but what, after all, I 
would," I responded, again assuming that hypocrit 
ical tone of irresolution which I had adopted when 
entering the house in preference to riding further; 
though, as then, I knew very well what was the 
fore-ordained result. " As you say," and it was only 
afterwards that I remembered lie had not said it, 
" the road hither is a pretty long one, and the air 
has been a little nipping and yes, Roper, on second 
thoughts I am inclined to believe that I might manage 
to eat a mouthful or two." 

Roper grinned, I am sure I do not know at 
what, and turned to go. 

" I will bring the things in here, Doctor," he said, 
" for the dining-room table is getting made ready 
for dinner. And besides, you are more likely not 
to be disturbed here." 

With that, he cleared away a portion of the papers 
from the library table, then disappeared, and soon 
returned, bearing a well laden tray which he set 
down before me. There was, indeed, a goodly array ; 
some jelly and pastry, the remains of a venison pie, 
delicate biscuits, olives, and indeed enough to con 
stitute a varied and ample meal for a professed 
epicure. If this were Roper s idea of a lunch, what 



262 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

must the coming dinner be ? Thinking incidentally 
upon that, I resolved that for the present I would 
refrain as much as possible from allowing too much 
scope to my appetite, and sat down with intent at 
rigorous self denial. Possibly, however, I did not 
fully live up to my prudent resolution. Owing to 
the long drive, my appetite was more than ordinarily 
keen, and somehow seemed to increase with the first 
few mouthfuls. As generally happens in such cases, 
therefore, I was led on by small degrees into utter 
abandonment of my good intentions, and ended by 
making a very full and excellent repast. 

Towards the end, I began to find my hunger giving 
way to thirst, and wondered that Roper had not 
furnished me Avith any wine. A mere thimbleful 
was all that I would require, just a mouthful, 
indeed, to wash down the venison pastry and take 
away something of the dryness of the French rolls. 
There was not even a goblet of water ; and alto 
gether, it was a very strange state of affairs. It 
was, of course, merely a case of momentary forget- 
f ulness on the part of Roper; but then, it did not 
seem right that he should ever have forgotten. For 
the instant I felt a little insulted, as at designed 
neglect. Roper should really have known better, 
inasmuch as I was such a frequent visitor to the 
house, and my taste for proper treatment must be so 
well recognized. 

But while thus inwardly expressing to myself my 
discontent, I chanced to observe a bottle resting 
upon a small carved corner shelf near the door. A 
short, stout bottle, holding, perhaps, a trifle over a 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 263 

pint. It bad a yellow seal, and even across the room 
and through the gathering gloom of evening, I could 
see that the tops and sides of the bottle were thickly 
coated with dust. Doubtless a bottle of very supe 
rior wine; and now it flashed across me that Roper 
must have intended it for myself. Nothing more 
probable, indeed, than that he had brought it in with 
the tray, and finding it crowded to the danger of 
being upset by the swaying of the dishes, had lifted 
off the bottle while passing, and placed it upon this 
little shelf, intending afterwards to return for it. 
And of course, nothing was more easy than, in the 
end, to have forgotten it altogether. As though to 
prove the truth of my conjecture, a small silver 
corkscrew lay conveniently at the side of the bottle. 
I crossed over and carried the little treasure of a 
bottle back to my table, then held it up to the light. 
The glass was dark and thick, and the dust seemingly 
darker and thicker, so that I could form no fair 
judgment of its contents. I could merely ascertain 
by the weight and the faint line of demarkatiou at 
the top of the neck, that it was full, which so far 
was satisfactory. After all, the only true way to 
judge of the contents of a bottle is to taste them; 
and in this case it seemed plainly to have been 
intended that I should do so. Accordingly I pulled 
out the cork, and there being no glass at hand, I took 
a copious, o-ui-o-lino- draught from the bottle itself. 

1 i ~ O ~ O 

It was a very fair wine, as near as I could judge, 
port. I have never professed to be anything of an 
expert in wines; still, I can tell good port from 
gooseberry, and whether a wine is thin or fruity. In 



264 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

the present case, I found the wine rich and palatable; 
with something of a strange tendency to acidity, 
however, as though it might have been kept a little 
too long. I had read that after a certain number of 
years, a wine begins to lose in excellence ; and it 
struck me that this little bottle might have been 
emptied, with more advantage to its proper enjoy 
ment, a few years earlier. 

Still, thinking the matter all over, I felt glad that 
it had not been so disposed of, for in that case I 
would not have had the drinking of it; and what 
ever might be its present defects, calculated upon 
some artificial standard of absolute perfection, it 
was a much better wine than any to which I was 
accustomed, and admirably served its purpose in 
washing down the pastry, now becoming dry and 
tasteless. Therefore I placed the bottle lovingly 
beside my plate ; and when my throat had been duly 
moistened, I felt able to eat more venison, and with 
the dry ness of the venison, to take another draught of 
the wine. So continuing, turning from neck of 
bottle to pastry, and from pastry back again to 
neck of bottle, there came at last a moment when 
the wine refused longer to run, and somewhat to my 
astonishment I felt that I had drunk it all. 

I was not displeased or disheartened thereat. I 
felt, indeed, that I had had enough. The pastry 
was not all gone, but already it had lost much of its 
attraction for me, and as for the wine, I cared not 
for a single sip more. I was satiated, pleased with 
myself and contented with all the world. Satisfied 
appetite had put me in a tranquil and happy frame 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 265 

of mind; and I could lean back in my easy chair, 
fold my hands before me, and dream away an hour 
or so, with scarcely a care. 

One thing, indeed, troubled me a little, at the first. 
The wine had evidently been intended for me, but I 
had been guilty of the impropriety of drinking it 
without invitation. Xow that my needs were 
assuaged, I began to think that it would have been 
a little nicer for me to have waited until Roper had 
placed the bottle before me. Though he might alto 
gether have forgotten to do so, and I had continued 
to the very end to prick the coating of my throat 
with dry pastry, it would have been better so, than 
to have shown such eagerness to help myself. And 
yet another fault. I had drank the wine out of the 
bottle s neck, instead of ringing for a glass. This, 
of itself, was rude and unbecoming; exhibiting not 
only a lack of due deference for good wine, in the 
proper use thereof, but also giving my action some 
thing of the semblance of shame faced concealment. 
How should I repair these errors, and, in some meas 
ure, restore my shattered self-respect ? 

There was nothing in fact, to do, but to replace 
the little bottle upon the corner shelf and thereby 
avoid immediate betrayal of its misappropriation. 
Accordingly, I restored it to its former resting place, 
first pushing the cork down even with the rim, and 
I laid the cork-screw again beside it. This done, 
I sank once more into the easy chair, and resumed 
my uninterrupted flow of tranquil thought. My 
fault repaired as far as for the instant I could do so, 
I was no longer to give the matter a single moment 
23 



266 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

of concern. What harm, after all, had I done ? I 
had merely drank some wine that had been intended 
for me, and, through forgetfulness, had not been 
offered. Whatever license had here been shown, 
would never anywhere give offence. Mabel would 
never hear about it; and Roper, upon discovering it, 
would utter no criticisms, inasmuch as, under similar 
circumstances, he would have been certain to do the 
same. I should avoid the wondering glare of his 
fishy eye, by leaving the house before he discovered 
that the bottle had been emptied; how he might after 
wards look, need concern me little. 

Thus comforting myself, to the re-establishment of 
my mental equilibrium, I settled down still more 
snugly into my chair, again took up the Cornhill, 
turned over a leaf or two, and, I think, must have 
dropped off into a passing doze. I conclude that it 
must have been so, from the fact that I had not 
seen Roper re-enter the room. A slight rattling of 
plates aroused me; and opening my eyes I saw Roper 
at the table, gathering up the appurtenances of my 
late lunch. He piled the china upon a waiter, and 
then staggered to the door. Opening it, somehow, 
with the back of his knuckles and holding it 
open with the side of his heel, he squeezed through, 
turning as he did so, for a parting observation. 

" This is the great day at last, Doctor Crawford." 

"What day, Roper?" 

"The day when we are to know all about it; 
the day for the opening of the twenty-five year old 
bottle." 



HAPTER 



HjoHE door closed behind Roper and his laden tray, 
(^ and I jumped up as though I had been shot. 
A cold chill ran down my back, then the blood 
rushed to my head with fever heat. I wished that 
I were away, in the middle of China, ten feet 
beneath the surface of the earth, anywhere, rather 
than in the upbraiding presence of that unlucky 
bottle. I felt that I could have jumped down a 
well, gone up to the stars in a balloon, submitted 
to any torture or persecution, rather than have been 
led by cruel fate into the Priory on that Christmas- 
day. 

Yes, I recollected the whole story now. It had 
happened years ago, when I was a mere growing 
lad. I had known it at the time, though perhaps it 
would have made little impression upon me, if I had 
not heard it talked over, unremittingly, for two 
or three years after. Then it had all died away 
again ; but as there are men who keep the calendars 
of heat and cold and changes of the wind from year 
to year, with no apparent object or result, so there 
are other men who make it their business to note 
down registry of anything in the least singular or 
unusual, with purpose to bring it all up again at 
some appropriate future time. Some one of these 
persons, doubtless, had made minute of the bottle, 
and now within a day or two, as the time drew near, 



268 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

had opened his budget of expectations, and again 
awakened the curiosity of the whole village. 

It was a little over twenty-five years before, that 
he whom they called the " Old Squire " the grand 
father of Mabel had died. He left his estate, in 
the natural way, to his descendants. Attached to 
his will, but forming no part of it, was a simple 
direction that a certain accurately designated bottle 
of wine should be put away in a safe place, and left 
untouched for twenty-five years from the coming 
Christmas, at which time it should be opened by the 
then owner of the Priory. Naturally the mandate 
caused much gossip and speculation. There were a 
few a very few who laughed, and pronounced 
the thing a mere whim and joke of the " Old Squire," 
not worth a second thought ; but the majority consid 
ered differently. The more the matter was canvassed, 
the more wonderful did it seem, and the wider and 
less bound down to probability became the range of 
speculation. It was the expressed belief of some 
that the wine was a newly-discovered elixir, which 
should restore departed youth, and thereby give to 
the House of Cuthbert the gift of unfailing life ; 
though the advocates of this theory, it must be con 
fessed, were few, and principally among the ignorant 
and the lovers of the supernatural. Others thought 
that inasmuch as the "Young Squire " Mabel s 
father had not the credit of being very strong 
minded or exacting of his rights, the " Old Squire " 
had accurately calculated twenty-five years as the 
time necessary to impoverish the estate, and had 
made arrangements for replenishing its fortunes at 



PRIOR POLYCAUP S PORTRAIT. 269 

the end of that period. This might be done by a 
scroll in the bottle, revealing the spot where treasure 
was concealed. Such post-mortem protectory devises 
were not unknown in English history, it was alleged; 
though no one, at the moment, could place his 
finger upon any well authenticated instance. Still 
another class argued that it might not have been 

o o 

necessary to point out any especial place of deposit, 
inasmuch as the treasure might be in the bottle 
itself. A few large diamonds of sufficient value to 
redeem the estate from any ordinary liability could 
easily be secreted in the bottom of the bottle, snugly 
packed around so as not prematurely to betray them 
selves, and thus lie hidden until the opportunity for 
their disinterment might arise. 

As it turned out, of course, the theory of those 
few comprising the sensible and reflecting class was 
the correct one. The bottle held no treasure; simply 
its modicum of good port wine. The Old Squire 
was an eccentric man, vastly fond of dealing in sur 
prises and mystifications. It had doubtless happened 
that in some moment of jovial companionship with 
an especially excellent bottle of wine, he had regretted 
that his descendants could not enjoy the fellow of 
it ; and in the impulse of the moment had endeavored 
to procure them that pleasure, by solemnly dedicat 
ing it to a life of twenty-five years in expectancy. 
Possibly he had then forgotten all about it ; more 
likely he had remembered it with a chuckle from 
time to time, enjoying the anticipated mortification, 
and only sorry that he could not be there to see. 
As it happened, he could not have contrived a better 
23* 



270 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

way to keep his memory green; the speculations 
over the bottle having accomplished this for him far 
better than if it had been a bronze monument. And 
now to me the secret stood revealed; it was wine, 
not at all improved by age, only that. 

Only that, in essence; and yet to me, in its con 
sequences, perhaps a very serious thing. Expecta 
tion now stood agog throughout all the village, 
it would be known that I had been summoned to 
attend at the uncorking, I would be expected to 
reveal the long hidden secret; and what, alas! 
was I to say ? I could not refuse to say anything, 
making affectation of new mysteries; for Roper, also, 
would be at the opening, and would expose the 
truth. I would not dare to own that 1 had myself 
emptied the bottle, for in every way the conse 
quences of the confession would be disastrous to 
me. Ridicule and suspicion would become my 
portion ever after. I would be pointed out as the 
doctor, who, at a private house, had taken upon 
himself surreptitiously to purloin and by himself 
drink a whole bottle of the family wine. Who after 
that would trust me in their houses ? And what pro 
fessional confidence could afterwards be reposed in a 
doctor who would be reported as being in the habit 
of emptying a whole bottle of wine at a sitting, not 
in the justifiable conviviality of the dinning room, 
but in the morbid seclusion of his own privacy? 
Moreover, would not the advocates of the diamond 
theory express disbelief in the story of any wine at 
all being in the bottle; and claim, instead, that I 
had pilfered the estate of its hoarded brilliants, 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 271 

robbing the fair unsuspecting heiress for my own 
enrichment ? 

The atmosphere of the room seemed stifling, I 
could scarcely breathe; and seizing my hat, I sought 
the open air for more collected reflection. As I 
passed out, I could see that Roper stood at a little 
window, and gazed after me in some astonishment. 
Well, indeed, he might. The snow was falling faster 
than ever, and was already over my ankles. The 
wind was increasing, the sky dark, and it was certain 
to be a tempestuous night. I had no overcoat, 
my thin boots were little fitted to plough through 
the deepening drifts; why, then, should I leave the 
comfortable bright coal fire and wander through 
that outside stormy blackness ? But, at the moment, 
I cared not what Roper thought; I was only intent 
upon composing my own distracted mind, and it 
seemed as though I could better do so, while 
wandering at will down the broad avenue of oaks 
than while pent up in a close room. 

And what, so my troubled thoughts step by 
step carried me on, what in addition would be the 
consequences of my error, in the matter of my hopes 
of Mabel ? How, in that, might not that unlucky 
bottle thwart me ? What if, despite my comforta 
ble assurance of full success, Mabel s feelings of mere 
friendship or real love for me were at that moment 
so nearly balanced, that any little circumstance 
would turn the scale, and she should believe that 
the village laughter which would assail the collapse 
of the bottle mystery had attached in part to her 
self; and that, therefore, loo-king upon me as the 



272 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

author of the annoyance, she should definitely turn 
her heart from me ? What if, inclining already to 
allow me the freedom of a betrothed, she were to 
look upon my sequestration of the bottle as an arro 
gant anticipation of rights of ownership to come, 
and so were to harden herself conclusively against 
me ? What if there were a hitherto undetected 
basis of suspicion in her nature, and in common with 
some others she were to disbelieve that the little 
bottle had contained only wine and were to accept 
some theory about papers or property therein 
retained for my own advantage ? Look at it in any 
way I might, I could see nothing but injury, gloom 
and ruin to come from the confounded bottle. 

Thus reflecting, I found myself at the end of the 
oak avenue and before the stables. My horse stood 
just inside the door; and by the light of a lantern 
the ostler Joe was rubbing him down. 

" Let him be ready the instant I want him, Joe," 
I said. " I may have to leave here at a moment s 
notice, to visit old Mrs. Rabbage, may be. In 
fact, if you hear nothing to the contrary, send the 
gig round at eight." 

"Just so," responded Joe. "It shall be ready. 
And Doctor " 

"Well?" 

" Isn t this the day for the bottle ? Shall we not 
now 

I turned away and strode back to the house. Was 
there any one in the village, over a year old, who 
was not on the tenterhooks of expectation about 
that miserable mystery ? Oh that I dared frankly 



PRIOR POLYCARP>S PORTRAIT. 273 

tell Mabel all about it ! But even if I dared, I 
should probably have little opportunity, so near at 
hand was now the dinner hour, so small the chance 
that I could see Mabel for long before. Oh that I 
were already betrothed to her, so that I might be 
able to make my confession freely, with full assur 
ance of being forgiven upon the spot ! Confusion 
upon those wasted opportunities of French and 
reading lessons, during which I might have spoken, 
and in my faint-hearted foolishness had not done 
so ! Oh that I might even now find occasion to 
rectify that stupid delay, so that when the dreaded 
disclosure of my imprudence was made, I should be 
forgiven at once and with a smile ! But alas! with 
that disclosure so close at hand and Roper ever 
hovering near, there could be no time for love avowals. 

With that last train of thought, suddenly there 
came upon me, as by demoniac suggestion, an idea 
so strange and fanciful, that even now, as I reflect 
upon it and try to impart to it .some element of sense 
in its justification, I am at a loss to account for its 
possession of me. But for my distortion of mind 
at that moment, I could never have entertained the 
idea for an instant ; but for my agitation driving me 
to stretch out hither and thither wildly for relief, it 
might never have come to me at all. It was the 
idea that I might yet make my proposal and in such 
manner that it should precede the dreaded disclosure 
and be known only to Mabel and myself. I might 
write out my offer of heart and hand; and I might 
put it in the bottle ! 

It was a wild scheme; and at any other moment 



274 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

than that of my agitation, I could never have coun 
tenanced it. And yet, even the most insane ventures 
sometimes meet success, the very oddity of their 
conception drawing attention from what would other 
wise be considered their un worthiness. At the first 
flash of that thought, indeed, I felt that I must dis 
courage it ; the very next instant it assumed shape, 
cogency and reliability. There was no time, indeed, 
for prolonged self argument upon the subject. 
Between the conception and the adoption of the idea 
was such a minute division of time that the whole 
thing seemed almost like a flash of inspiration. I 
was standing with one hand raised to my forehead 
in whirl of puzzled thought when I conceived that 
strange purpose ; my hand was still brushing across 
my temple when the purpose had fixed itself, and 
taken the signification of long shapen resolution. 

Yes, I would place my offer in the bottle ; and this 
seemed destined to be the happy effect. Mabel 
would open the bottle, and would find in it a folded 
paper. This would not in the least surprise her, 
inasmuch as one of the theories about the bottle was 
that it contained not wine but some written docu 
ment. She would unfold the paper and hold it up 
to the light. The first few words might startle her, 
as not like any thing that she had expected to find, 
but she would control herself and read further in 
search of explanation. Gradually the whole purport 
of it would dawn upon her; so gradually, indeed, 
that she would have full time and opportunity to 
compose herself. When she realized my meaning, 
she would be silent a moment, while I awaited 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 275 

response; and during that moment at least, she would 
forget all expectation she might have had about any 
different seci et in the bottle, or, if she remembered 
it at all, would do so with such confused and 
mingled perception of the past and present, that no 
instant annoyance or disappointment would be felt. 
If my appeal for her affection was unsuccessful, 
which, indeed, I could scarcely bring myself to 
believe, so kind and winning of late had been her 
manner, she would refuse me more in sorrow than 
in anger; so that, in that moment of pity, she 
would at once forgive my rash error about the bot 
tle, and the one presumption would atone for the 
other. If she accepted me, she would surely pardon 
everything, for the love that I had brought her to 
confess. I pictured the whole scene as in a mirror. 
She would sit for an instant with her hand before 
her face, as in tumult of undecided thought. But, 
in a moment, I would be allowed to see the answer 
ing smile stealing into view from beneath her fingers; 
and then, as though concealment were no longer to 

O O 

be dreamed of, she would let her hand fall and the 
sweet glance of responsive affection shine full and 
radiantly into my own eager face. That would be 
my answer, and surely it would be sufficient. And 
yet, perhaps, she might do more. For fuller token 
of her acceptance she might pluck a flower from her 
bouquet, and with affectation of playful spirit, extend 
it across the table ; and I, taking it from her out 
stretched hand, would place it in my button-hole. 
And there was almost a humorous side to the picture, 
I considered ; for there would be Roper standing 



276 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

stiffly beside us, and, in his dull way speculating upon 
what the bottle may have contained, and yet a 
thousand miles off from the real truth. He would 
see a paper drawn out, and he would wonder whether 
it was the key to a hidden treasure ; and would little 
dream that it had unlocked the long concealed 
treasure of my heart. He would watch the passage 
of a flower across the table, and would deem it a 
mere idle compliment of the moment ; nor even 
know that it was the well recognized symbol of the 
interchange of heart for heart. 

Transported with my scheme, and growing each 
moment more eager to put it into effect, I hurried 
back to the house, disregarding more than ever the 
darkness and the falling snow. In a minute I 
reached the hall door, entered and sought the library. 

Roper had been in and had lighted up the sconces, 
and now the gloom of dusk that I had left behind 
me was replaced with the brightness of wax candles. 
A soft glow fell upon wall and furniture, bringing 
out pleasant tints upon the hangings of Spanish 
leather and affording picturesque contrasts of light 
and shade. But I could not now stop to admire 
mere artistic effects; my first glance was towards 
the bottle, in fear lest it might have been removed. 
It was still there, however ; and the old eyes of 
Roper, in his going in and out, had failed to notice 
that the cork had been meddled with, or the gathered 
dust displaced. Once more I seized the bottle, drew 
its cork, then looked around for sheet of paper. 

There was none at hand ; for, as I have hinted, 
the library was one in little other than name, nor 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 277 

in any light could it be called a study. Not to 
be baffled, I drew out from my pocket a small blank 
book, in which I was wont to write prescriptions. 
The paper was thin and coarse, but there was no 
time, now, for consideration of that matter. Already 
the clock was upon the stroke of seven, and I must 
be speedy. The form and setting of my appeal 
must matter nothing ; the words themselves were 
the only thing to be considered. I laid the little 
book upon my knee, and with blunt pencil, hurriedly 
scrawled my declaration of love. 

Grant to me, dear Mabel, so I wrote, all that 
kind consideration which is so richly in your gift, 
while I dare to convey expression of that love which 
appertains to you and you alone. Not merely now, 
indeed / seeing that no prior portraiture than yours 
has ever been engraven on my heart. If I have 
long delayed in making this poor record and recital 
of my love, it has not been from lack of fere or, but 
rather that I have not dared believe that you would 
acquit me of presumption in my claim for your 
forbearance. Give me one smile in sign that your 
forgiveness of my daring has been sealed, and that 
my heart may at last be delivered from the bitter pain 
of its suspense. 

"It is rather a neat thing after all," I said to 
myself, with sweet satisfaction, as I folded the paper 
and stuffed it into the bottle. " Better, perhaps, 
than if I had indulged in labored rhetoric, seeing 
that this may seem to come more imploringly than 
the other, from the heart." 
24 



278 



PRIOR POLYCARP^S PORTRAIT. 



I clapped the cork back into place, held the neck 
of the bottle for a moment in the flame of a candle, 
pinched the melted wax into form, and restored the 
bottle to its old position upon the shelf. Scarcely 
had I done so, when I heard the rustle of silk, and 
Mabel entered. 




LHAPTER 



jy- 




EVER had Mabel appeared to me more beauti 
ful than at that moment; never had I been 
more impulsively attracted towards her. For nearly 
two years she had remained in deep mourning; but 
now seemingly, was about to return to the world. 
The lustreless black was banished, and in its place 
was a pale silk of some new tint that I had not yet 
learned, admirably harmonizing with her rich com 
plexion and bright sparkling eyes. Throughout her 
whole costume, were other departures from the som 
bre attire of grief, in the form of adornments whose 
names or purport I could not tell, and which not too 
obtrusively lent their assistance in making up the 
whole picture of grace and beauty. Not for me, 
indeed, in my ignorance of woman s ways and tastes, 
to decipher all that now combined to embellish her 
loveliness; it is sufficient that, though in their detail 
I was unlearned, I knew that, in their cultivated 
accord and arrangement, they added new lustre and 
attraction to what had before been so precious to 
me. Gazing upon her, as for the moment she stood 
silent and composed in the doorway before advancing 
to welcome me grace in every line and perfection 
in every feature, from soft wavy hair to dimpled chin, 
it seemed as though I must have fallen at her feet 
and there, in more tender woi ds than any I could 
write, have avowed my passion. Then, for an instant, 



280 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

there came a flickering shadow of despondency upon 
me. Could it really be that all that beauty was for 
myself alone ? It was with an effort, indeed, that 
I recalled her late gracious manner and her kindly 
glances, and reassured myself with the conviction 
that all was well. 

" I need not wish you a Merry Christmas, Doctor 
Crawford," she said, advancing; and, in the plenitude 
of her usual pleasant mode of greeting, holding 
forth both hands. " To you, so full of kindliness of 
heart and the satisfaction of good works, every day 
should be a merry or at least, a happy one." 

" No day happier than this, Miss Mabel," I said; 
and again came the scarcely restrained impulse to 
avow myself. How hard, indeed, to resist clasping 
her in my arms, as there she stood, and not release 
her until she had promised to be mine forever ! 
"No day merrier than this, when I see you looking 
so well and happy. And you have given me the 
first opportunity to tender you the Christmas greet 
ings. Should I not be thankful for that?" 

" It is a very little thing, indeed," she said. "And 
who so thankful as myself that I have so kind a 
friend, and upon whom I may call at will, to share 
the joy I hope to feel in this new Christmas-day ? 
Sit down, dear Doctor; for perhaps Roper will give 
us yet a little respite from the more formal duties of 
the occasion, and I have something that perhaps I 
should tell you." 

" Proceed, Miss Mabel." And I seated myself on 
the sofa at her side. 

" It is first, to thank you yet again, for coming 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 281 

so speedily and promptly at my poor invitation. 
To-day, as you see, I am throwing aside open evidence 
of past sorrow, and preparing once more to take my 
place in the outer world. And could I do so with 
greater satisfaction than in looking for the cheery 
presence of my first, my best, almost my only 
friend ? " 

" Ah. Miss Mabel! " I could only say. 

"And then again; to whom else could I look for 
assistance perhaps advice in the great duty 
thrown upon me to-day ? You know what that is, 
Doctor Crawford ? You are aware what I must do 
to-day ? " 

"I think that is, I have heard 

" Yes, I see you know something about it the 
bottle. As you are aware, it was left by my grand 
father to be opened in twenty-five years from his 
death, by his heir and on Christmas-day. To-day is 
the appointed time. Can you not realize that I must 
feel some nervousness about it some desire not to 
be alone, but to have the attending presence of a 
near and valued friend; if not for assistance, at least 
as witness of what may be found or may happen, so 
as to avoid misconstruction through this gossiping 
neighborhood around me ? " 

" And yet, Miss Mabel, if there should be nothing 
in the bottle, if the matter were merely a quaint 
jest of your grandfather if it should turn out 
that the bottle had since been opened through some 
mistake " 

" But that could not be, dear Doctor. It has been 
kept under close lock and key until to-day. Only 
24* 



282 PRIOR POLYCARP^S PORTRAIT. 

this morning has it been taken out, in readiness for 
opening, and been placed carefully aside in this 
library, so as to run no danger of being mingled 
with any other wines." 

" Yes, yes, indeed, Miss Mabel. Yet if " 

" And as to what may be in it, Doctor, I have 
really very little expectation of the marvelous. 
There are some who speak about new fortune to be 
found ; and some, of life-giving secrets. I place little 
faith in any such anticipations or vagaries as these. 
There may, after all, be only wine. The most that 
I can hope for, is some paper bestowing gift of little 
value except as affection or association might give 
it worth." 

" Anything that might be offered to you, Miss 
Mabel, surely would be of little value compared 
with what is most worthy of you." 

" Thanks, Doctor; but really, you are so compli 
mentary this evening ! Ai e you always so, on 
Christmas-day? Well, that is what I really think; 
all the little that, at the most, I can hope for. But 
now, shall I tell you what will insist upon coming 
into my mind, in spite of all I can do to drive it 
away ? It may seem very silly to you; but then you 
must know that the Cuthberts always have been 
silly upon that point. It is the Cuthbert vagary; 
and we hold to it as tenaciously as some families 
retain their alien or unpopular religion or politics." 

" And what then " 

"This, Doctor. You must not laugh at me; but 
really it seems as though Prior Polycarp had some 
thing to do with the my&tery of the bottle." 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 283 

" And who " 

" Not know about Prior Polycarp, the head of this 
house when it was a religious institution ? And yet, 
now that I think of it, I do not know that I have 
ever spoken to you about him, and there are very 
few other persons sufficiently interested in the history 
of the place to be able to inform you. He was the 
last Prior, bringing the annals of the Priory down 
to the date of its breaking up in the time of Henry 
Eighth. His portrait hangs in the dining room, 
where you must often have seen it without thinking 
to inquire who it was. Probably you took it for an 
ancestor, in spite of the ecclesiastical costume and 
the tonsured head. The picture is almost the sole 
relic of the religious furniture of the place. He was 
not an ancestor, of course, but yet might be called 
a relative. When the Priory was confiscated, it 
was sold to Sir Guy Cuthbert, my far off ancestor, 
and he happened to be a brother of Prior Poly- 
carp. This relationship was so far beneficial to 
the monks, that they were not rudely turned out, but 
were suffered to depart at their convenience, while a 
few of the most infirm were allowed to inhabit the 
cloisters until their death, the whole of the Priory 
not being immediately altered for secular purposes. 
Among these was naturally the Prior, who continued 
to reside in the place as his brother s guest. As may 
be imagined, this leniency made a more pleasant state 
of feeling between the old and new possessors than 
generally prevailed in these cases of dispossession ; 
and certainly, the two brothers remained in perfect 
accord and affection until their deaths, which 



284 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

happened within two weeks of each other. And 
it must have been owing to this fact, that after 
his decease Prior Polycarp continued to show his 
good will towards the family." 

" After his death, did you say ? " 

"Yes. The matter, however singular, cannot be 
doubted, there were so many instances of the fact. 
I cannot mention half of them, indeed; but will try 
to entertain you with a few. There was the incident 
of the siege, in the time of Charles First, for example. 
The besiegers had not yet invested the place, but 
were stealing up towards it from a distance, hoping 
to take it by surprise. Sir Geoffrey Cuthbert the 
then owner was asleep, apprehending no evil. 
Suddenly he was awakened by the tramp of foot 
steps to and fro along the hall. Rising to ascertain 
who was the disturber, he could see no one at all; 
yet all the same the footsteps continued, even at his 
very side, going off a few paces and then returning, 
with evident desire to lead him to follow them. At 
last he was moved to do so, and thereby was led 
through the hall and up the stairway, and thence 
out upon the roof, whence all at once he saw the 
rebel forces stealing up at not more than half a mile 
off. The small garrison was immediately called to 
arms and posted properly, and so the surprise was 
turned into a siege; and two weeks after, the King s 
forces brought relief. And it was always thought by 
us, Doctor, that it must have been the Prior who made 
the mysterious footsteps, and for the purpose of 
giving information to Sir Geoffrey." 

" And then ? " I said, too much surprised at her 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 285 

fixed belief in that family tradition to utter any com 
ment, and preferring to lead the way to further 
confidences. 

"Yes; then there were other instances. There 
was the case of Morton Cuthbert in the time of 
George Second. He had been Sir Morton; but, in 
some way that I could never understand he then lost 
the title. He lost the estate too, for a while, and 
probably at the same time and by the same process. 
Afterwards he regained the property, but the title 
was gone forever. For two years he was an exile ; 
and during that time, the new owner he whom we 
have always called the Pretender lived on the 
place. At that time there was a belfry on the top 
of the building, and in it, the bell that was wont to 
call the monks to prayers and the refectory. When 
they were dispossessed, the world had grown less 
religious, and the bell was only used for the call to din 
ner. It was a bell of very sweet and silvery tone, the 
glory of the neighborhood. But when the new occu 
pant first had it rung, it was at a great feast which 
he gave to celebrate his accession, to the amaze 
ment of all, the bell rang false, its pleasant tone was 
gone, and a harsh rasping sound was in its place, 
the note, indeed, of a cracked bell. It is said that 
when a servitor climbed up to see what was the 
matter, he saw old Prior Polycarp standing beside 
the bell, and deadening the sound with his out 
stretched hand. This might or might not have been 
so.- It is certain, however, that the Prior must have 
had something to do in the matter ; for when the 
Cuthberts again came into possession, lo ! the bell 



286 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

rang true and distinct and silvery as before, so that 
the country people were drawn hither in crowds to 
listen closer to what seemed to them a miracle." 

As may be imagined, I listened to all this in 
astonishment. Mabel was not naturally a credulous 
person. But, after all, how easy is it to be credulous 
in matters reflecting honor or distinction upon family 
history! And how readily we can cheat ourselves 
into believing circumstances that seem to indicate 
the protection and favoritism of higher influences 
thrown around us ! For the moment I considered 
whether, when Mabel became my wife, it would be 
my duty to argue with her and convince her of her 
superstition ; nor, indeed, could I quite make up my 
mind whether it would be proper to do so, or whether 
I had better let those stories about Prior Polycarp 
remain uncontradicted, as phantasies that gave her 
pleasure and could do her no harm. 

" And therefore you see, dear Doctor Crawford, 
how easily I can incline myself to believe that the 
old Prior has something to do with this bottle, 
thereby practicing some intervention in our affairs 
and for our good." 

"But you forget, Miss Mabel, that this bottle lias 
not come down from the Middle Ages. It has been 
merely reserved by your grandfather, and within 
twenty-five years." 

" That is all very true, dear Doctor. But may it 
not be that the Prior, for certain purposes of his 
own, had put it into the heart of my grand father, to 
seal up and dedicate for a long life a bottle with 
merely wine in it, or even an empty bottle, intend- 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 287 

ing himself thereafter to make use of it as a reposi 
tory for some important secret ? Even you cannot 
certainly say that the bottle may not in the beginning 
have contained merely wine and been afterwards 
opened and some paper substituted." 

" Xo, Miss Mabel ; certainly I cannot say that," 
I rejoined, a little startled at her coincidence of 
thought. " And if that is to say, if the bottle 
was found to contain not a secret of the past, but 
merely that is to say, something that you did not 
suspect, would you would you be very angry ? " 

"Why, how could I ever tell, Doctor Crawford, 
until I saw what was in the paper, and knew whether 
it \vas proper to be angry or not ? But it is little 
use now speculating upon the matter, for here comes 
Roper to summon us and we shall soon know all 
about it." 

Roper, indeed, at that moment appeared, dazzling 
in white waist-coat, cravat and gloves, and threw 
open the door leading into the dining room; and 
offering my arm to Mabel, I escorted her from the 
library. As has been said, the dining room also had 
once formed a portion of the refectory, and much of 
the heavy graining of the ceiling had been suffered 
to remain. Like the library, there were rich hang 
ings of Spanish leather, and in many respects the 
style and furnishing of the two rooms were similar. 
Where in the one stood bookcases, in the other were 
great mahogany side-boards weighed down with rich 
treasure of old family plate. There was, of course, 
an ample display of other heavy plate, over which the 
chandelier thickly set with wax candles shed a soft 



288 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

and pleasant gleam. Around the walls were a few 
family portraits; among which I now observed, placed 
so that it faced my allotted seat at table, the picture 
of the Prior Poly car p. He seemed to be a pleasant 
faced man, with rosy features and rather convivial 
expression; and as we took our places, and the wax 
candles slightly flared with the motion of our bodies, a 
fitful gleam was cast upon the old man s countenance, 
causing the smile to deepen and a certain roguish 
twinkle to gleam in his eye, almost with the potency 
of a wink, the whole effect of it, moreover, seeming 
to be directed upon myself. It was a good omen, I 
thought; the old Prior thus beaming acquaintance 
upon me as though welcoming me into the family. 

A pleasant apartment and a cozy little Christmas 
party, indeed. There must have been occasions in 
the olden times when the table had spread the full 
length of the room, affording space for large family 
festivities. Now, however, it had been shortened in 
proportion to the requirements of merely Mabel and 
myself ; so diminished, indeed, that, as we sat at 
opposite ends, we could have touched hands across. 
A very snug arrangement, in every respect; and, 
except for the somewhat elaborate garniture of the 
table in honor of the day, vastly suggestive of future 
comfort. How probable was it, that Mabel and 
myself were destined thus to sit in cozy contiguity 
for all the future years! How suggestive was it all, 
of our approaching domestic felicity ! 

For a while there was little to be said. What 
might be called the heavy work of dinner engaged 
our attention, and the presence of Roper skirmishing 



PRIOR POLYCAKP S PORTRAIT. 289 

around us in all that solemnity of state apparel was 
not propitious for ease of conversation. But even 
then, my thoughts ran freely ; and as I gazed at 
the beaming smile upon Mabel s face and basked in 
the sunshine of her sweet winning manner, I gave 
fuller vent to my sanguine hopes and felt that 
my happiness was all assured. And in this con 
nection, I remember that it became a play of fancy 
to watch the flickering of the candles upon the picture 
of the Prior Polycarp and from the contraction or 
expansion of his smile, to draw my auguries of 
the future. At every pleasant expression from 
Mabel I found myself looking up at the portrait 
for -ghostly assent ; at each good wish uttered by 
myself, I there sought kindly confirmation of my 
hopes. Little did Roper know how, as he stood 
magnificently beside the table and made the candles 
flare higher or lower with his ceremonious flourishing 

O ~ 

of the silver covers, he widened or narrowed the 
Prior s welcome and approbation of me, and thereby 
alternately elated or depressed me. 

At last the time arrived for Roper to put on the 
dessert and take his departure; which he did with 
a series of flourishes that wreathed the old Prior s 
face with plenteous increase of smiles. Then Mabel 
filled her own little wine glass and nodded to me. 
Up to that minute, she had indulged in merely a sip; 
though I had done much more, as indeed was ex 
pected of me. For, as it was not known that I had 
already finished a small bottle of port and I could 
not confess the fact, it seemed not too exacting to 
demand that I should do fair duty to the light 
25 



290 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

sherry, claret and champagne that graced the border 
of ray plate. It was a little too much for me, how 
ever ; and I could feel my head buzzing and my 
tongue becoming unloosed; the more so as the longer 
1 looked at Mabel and watched the kindly play of 
her expression in even the most commonplace 
remark, the more assured I felt regarding her affec 
tion for me, and the more exhilarated at my success 
But sedulously I restrained all appearance of elation, 
nor could any unwonted excess be at all detected, 
unless from my increasing garrulousness and tend 
ency to merry and trifling thought. 

" Will you let me pledge you many a merry Christ 
mas ? " Mabel said. " It is a day so full of joy 
and hope that we must needs do more than merely 
use it carelessly we must take solemn possession 
of it with grave and dignified toasting of each 
other." 

" A day of hope, indeed, my dear Miss Mabel," I 
responded, bowing towards her. " A day for every 
good word and deed." 

" For peace and comfort and forgiveness to all the 
world, dear Doctor Crawford. I can say this truly to 
yourself, as always first in the appropriate keeping 
of it. For I know how, in your ministrations you 
bring peace and comfort wherever you go." 

"And the forgiveness. Miss Mabel?" 

" Why as to that, Doctor, I know your kindness 
of heart, as well as the favor in which you are held 
by all men. What is there that you would have to 
forgive ? " 

"Everything and everybody, my dear Miss 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 291 

Mabel." And with that, the wine mounting still 
higher in my head, I broke away from the serious 
strain in which we had begun, and wandered off 
carelessly into spirit of idle jesting. " My landlady, 
who in every way cruelly wrongs me, must be 
forgiven ; and and there is my rival, the homceo- 
pathic doctor. Shall I tell you what he did three 
months ago ? " 

" Yes, tell me, Doctor," she rejoined, a little 
surprised at my new tone, and scarcely knowing how 
far I meant what I said. 

Then I told how that I had been in the apothecary s 
shop, buying jalap ; and how that the homoeopathic 
doctor being also there had said " give them a 
bucketful of it, Doctor Crawford." How that I had 
made no immediate reply to that fine irony, but had 
afterwards remembered that I should have retorted, 
" better that, than a millionth part of a grain in a 
bucketful of water." How that thereafter I watched 
the frhop to see when the homoeopathic doctor was 
present, and on such occasions always went in and 
purchased jalap in hopes that he would renew the 
sarcasm, whereupon I should have been ready with 
my retort. How that for want of such opportunity 
I had been very angry at the homoeopathic doctor; 
but now, at her request and instance would forgive 
him. And how that she must properly appreciate 
the fact, inasmuch as it was a great and unexampled 
thing for an allopathic doctor to forgive a homoeo 
pathic doctor within three months, for anything. 

" And have you not also some little matters to 
forgive, Miss Mabel ? " 



292 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

"I do not think I scarcely know " 

" Not even the Vicar s wife ? " I asked. 

And then I went on, in the same loose, rambling, 
half serious way to tell her how I had heard of the 
sarcasm of the Vicai % s wife, about Mabel s favorite 
mission among the Hottentots. How that it was 
unjust, inasmuch as the Vicar s wife was still more 
urgent in a mission among the Afghans. How that 
I had forgotten what the Vicar s wife had said ; but 
that, whatever it was, there must have been some 
where a good answer for it. How that I would have 
her prepare a set of answers for any emergency, and 
then lie in wait for the Vicar s wife and by cunningly 
engrafted allusion to the Hottentot mission draw 
forth an innuendo, and then at once let fly an arrow 
from the collected quiver and annihilate the Vicar s 
wife upon the spot. Who, having been annihilated, 
could then, as a matter of course, be forgiven for 
her former attack, and thereby the true purpose of 
Christmas-day be fulfilled. 

All this was very foolish, indeed, and I knew it at 
the time; but I seemed to have no power, at the 
instant, to stop myself. The wine was too far up in 
my head for common sense to restrain me, and I 
know not how far I might have run on, or into what 
other foolish excesses of speech I might not have 
been led, but for a glance at Mabel s face. The 
old Prior, I may mention, appeared to frown at that 
moment, but the glance at Mabel was enough for 
me. There was a puzzled, uncertain expression, a 
seeming doubt as to how far I spoke in jest or 
earnest and whether it was all good fun to be 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 293 

laughed at, or mere drivel of a vacant mind much 
to be pitied. I knew that in a moment she would 
be driven to the latter theory and feel grieved; and 
at once, before it was too late, I arrested myself. 

" But all this is foolishness, my dear Miss Mabel. 
Forgive me for trying to make you laugh, when 
perhaps you were wishing to speak seriously. You 
were saying " 

"Yes, Doctor," and now at last she smiled 
pleasantly, being doubtless relieved to find that I 
was not really becoming vacant of mind. "Not to 
speak seriously, perhaps; and yet I would look upon 
the day as given up to different kinds of forgive 
nesses than for such poor slights as those of which 
you now speak. Rather let it be dedicated to the 
making up of great injuries, and the restoration of 
family peace where it has been for a long period 
injured. It seemed so singular so coincident with 
my reflections upon the day, that only this morning 
I should have received a certain letter written nearly 
a month ago ! Do you remember one Captain 
Stanleigh once of the Guards?" 

"I think I do not I am sure, indeed " 

"Possibly you do not, for it is long since he has 
been at the Priory ; and when he was here, it was 
for only a few days at a time. The truth is, he 
always quarreled with my father to such an extent, 
that, in the end, my father almost turned him out 
of the house. And yet he did not mean to quarrel, 
after all ; it was only his silly obstinacy." 

" As how " 

"In this way. Captain Stanleigh was our cousin; 
25* 



294 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

but, though of our blood, always professed to dis 
believe the story about Prior Polycarp befriending us 
so mysteriously. He did not deny that such inter 
ventions might happen ; for had not similar things 
occurred in other old houses ? But Captain Stanleigh 
had taken an idea that we were not in any degree of 
kindred to the Prior; and therefore, why should we 
be assisted by him ? It was not Sir Guy Cuthbert 
the brother of the Prior who was our ancestor the 
Captain insisted but one Mark Cuthbert from the 
other side of England, a mere equerry of one of the 
noble houses and no relation to the Prior. Upon this 
point my father and Captain Stanleigh violently dis 
puted, and I must confess that I took my father s 
part; the whole point turning upon the question as 
to whether, at that time, we were of noble blood, or 
whether we had obtained the title afterwards and 
by purchase. And the quarrel finally raged so vio 
lently, that all intercourse was broken off between 
us, and Captain Stanleigh went off to the West 
Indies." 

" Such family estrangements are always very sad," 
I said. 

"Are they not, Doctor Crawford ? But now comes 
the better part of the story. This morning I have 
received the letter about which I speak, in which 
the Captain regrets the past, expresses himself with 
great respect and affection for my father, acknowl 
edges his own perversity and my father s correct 
views about the Cuthbert descent, begs for a restora 
tion of the family harmony, and promises me a speedy 
visit." 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 295 

" That is all as it should be," I said. 

"Yes, Doctor; it is thepropei- thing, indeed. All 
family reconciliations must naturally be pleasant. 
In this case, there is one peculiar feature about it. 
I must premise that, apart from a mere re-agreement 
it might happen. I can tell it to you, Doctor, as 
such an old friend the probability is, that, in this 
reconciliation with Cousin Tom, with Captain 
Stanleigh, I should say, there will come a renewal 
of our engagement." 

" Good Heavens ! " I cried within myself, and 
falling back in my chair as if struck. "And my 
proposal in that confounded bottle ! " 




LHAPTER 



y 



mist seemed to gather before my eyes, cold 
chills to run through my frame in every 
direction, a palsy to bind me hand and foot. It 
was as though I had been stunned and pierced 
and buffeted with every variety of sensation that 
ever the human frame is subject to, and that the 
misery of it lasted a full hour or so. Yet it could 
have been for only a second or two, for when I 
regained resolution enough to raise my face and gaze 
around, I found that all things remained unaltered. 
Mabel had not in the least noticed my agitation, 
which could scarcely have been the case if it had 
lasted for any considerable length of time. Indeed, 
at that moment, her face was partially turned away, 
watching for Roper, who, at touch of bell, was now 
emerging from the next room. In his hand he held 
the unlucky bottle, which at her direction, he placed 
upon the table at her right hand, but so awkwardly 
that it toppled over upon its side. 

"Be careful, Roper." 

"I thought, Miss, that it was heavier," he re 
sponded, retiring slowly, and all the while eying the 
bottle as though already mysteries were gathering 
about it, in foreshadowing of some wonderful result. 

" Certainly it feels lighter than it did," said Mabel, 
gently weighing it in her hand. "And really, it has 
less appearance of holding wine than once it had. 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 297 

Actually, now that I try to look through it against 
the light, there seems to be a folded paper in it. I 
never noticed that before. Look for yourself, my 
dear Doctor Crawford. Does it not also seem to 
you 

" Doubtless there is a paper in the bottle, Miss 
Mabel. Which being so, is it safe for you to open 
it now, or at all, indeed ? Better let me take 
it away with me and have it opened in the presence 
of your lawyer. It might contain some dreadful 
family secret, which it would not be proper for you 
to know, at least just now. We would thus spare 
you the pain of it, if necessary; and afterwards, if 
the proper time should ever come 

" The proper time is now, Doctor Crawford," and 
I noticed that she spoke with appearance of a little 
pique. " There can be nothing about my family that 
I should fear to know." 

" But at least, my dear Miss Mabel, let me open 
the bottle for you. These things sometimes fly apart 
in the most unexpected manner; and if through any 
misfortune, you should cut your fair fingers 

For I thought that if I were to open the bottle, I 
might affect to do so with great effort to overcome 
resistance, requiring me at the least to rest it upon 
the floor and under the shadow of the table cloth, 
where unseen, I might succeed in plucking out my 
miserable little note, and pretending that there had 
been nothing inside after all, except a modicum of old 
wine that must have evaporated through the cork. 
But even in that scheme, fate seemed to work against 
me. 



298 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

11 Thanks, my dear doctor. But you must remem 
ber that the injunction of my grandfather was to the 
effect that the bottle must be opened by the heir. 
And after all, as you can see, I must have some apti 
tude for such a business, since the corkscrew goes in 
so very easily. Look, too," and here she gave a 
pull, "how readily the cork comes out!" 

It came out, indeed, and of course not at all to 
my surprise, as easily as an almond from its shell. 
And there sat Mabel, in some momentary admiration 
at her own dexterity, with the bottle in one hand, 
and the corkscrew and cork in the other. Looking 
towards the bottle, I could see that my unhappy 
offer had unrolled itself, and had projected one little 
corner through the neck, as though eager to bring 
on the dreadful crisis. What, now, was I to do? 
To seize the bottle from her hand and fly with it 
wildly from the house ? This seemed all that was 
left for me; and alas, it was more than I dared 
attempt. Meanwhile, Mabel laid down the cork- 
Bcrew, placed the bottle before her upon the table and 
tried to peep within. 

"Yes, there is surely a paper here," she said; and 
with graceful motion she pulled it out and tried to 
spread it flat in front of her. "And see, dear Doc 
tor! There is writing on the face of it, and on the 
back, some mysterious symbols. That alone should 
prove the antiquity of the paper, should it not.? 
Were not such signs used in the Middle Ages ? 
Come around to me, Doctor, and tell me what you 
make of it all ! " 

"Yes, in the Middle Ages and on Solomon s 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 299 

sword and oh, Miss Mabel ! this becomes fright 
ful. Better not read further, but throw the paper 
into the fire upon the spot ! What should cabalistic 
characters have to do with you, except for harm ? " 

Even in that moment of my agitation, indeed, I 
could scai cely repress a smile, so closely does the 
influence of the grotesque sometimes envelope us. 
For I saw, at once, that the cabalistic characters 
were the mere beginning of a prescription that I had 
once dotted down in my note-book and forgotten, 
a line or two of technical contractions mingled with 
the customary symbols for drachms and penny 
weights. 

"To burn it, Doctor! Why no, it would be fool 
ish to do that; without, at least, first looking at the 
other side. But see ! There seems, unfortunately, 
to have been some remnants of wine left in the bot 
tle, and the paper is all discolored. Scarcely a word 
here and there remaining unobliterated. How care 
less in the Prior not to have chosen a cleaner bottle 
for his message! Can it all be lost, do you think? 
Is there anything at all to be made out of it ? " 

"We will see, my dear Miss Mabel," and hope 
began to dawn within me, the hope of extrication 
from my trouble. Yes, the carelessness with which 
Roper had let the bottle roll over upon its side had 
had this one good result for me, that the thin paper 
had become here and there blotted with wine-stains, 
so that only a few words remained decipherable. 
" We will see, Miss Mabel; perhaps we can read a 
little of it." 



300 PRIOR POLYCARP^S PORTRAIT. 

She spread it upon the table, we bent our heads 
closely over and she began. 

"Yes, Doctor, a little; yet after all, only here 
and there a word. Grant, consideration, gift, 
appertains prior portrait record recital 
qu it claim sign seal deliver That is all 
of it that I can make out. What can it mean, Doc 
tor Crawford?" 

"It would seem, indeed, to refer to some import 
ant legal document," I responded. " But where, 
indeed, is the document to be found ? This paper 
does not seem to tell that. May not the words 
prior-portrait be the key that 

"The very thing the very, very thing ! " cried 
Mabel. "There has always been a tradition in the 
family, of a recess behind the Prior s portrait, for 
concealment of treasure, though no one has ever 
believed enough in the matter to look for it. Let 
us now search ! Oh, my dear Doctor ! How kind 
you are; and how wise, too, to guess at once what 
might have troubled me in vain ! Yes, let us search." 

The smile of anticipation that wreathed her face 
was possibly not half as radiant as the smile of relief 
that now I wore. I felt, indeed, that, by a lucky 
chance, I was saved. No further interpretation of 
my miserable note would now be looked for; and 
whether the old Prior were to have any thing con 
cealed about him or not, was a matter of indifference 
to me, as long as I was out of my difficulty. It was 
with a light heart that now, first taking the paper 
from Mabel s hand and, as if in abstraction, crumpling 
it into my pocket, I jumped upon a chair and began 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 301 

to fumble about the Prior s frame. It was with no 
lighter heart, indeed, for nothing now could hap 
pen to disturb me, but with unutterable astonish 
ment that, after a minute of unguided wandering, 
my fingers struck upon a concealed spring and the 
old Prior slowly slid one side, and left a small cavity 
disclosed behind him. As he rolled past the line of 
the chandelier, new reflections fell glancing upon his 
good natured face, and it seemed to me that he 
smiled more broadly than ever before. It was with 
a cry of delight that Mabel called to me to hand 
down to her the parchment roll that lay inside, for 
she knew at once what it must surely be. 

"The old the original deed of the Priory!" she 
exclaimed, hugging the dusty roll close to her breast. 
" It has been lost for two generations, and no one 
has thoiight that it would ever turn up again ! 
Father so wished that it could be found, and he 
would have been so glad to see this day! " 

"Glad, indeed, Miss Mabel," I responded, perceiv 
ing at once the value of the instrument. " For this 
this gives you the victory in that terrible chancery 
suit. The whole five hundred acres will at last 

" What do I care about that, dear Doctor Craw 
ford ? " So, in the inconsiderateness and insufficiency 
of her spirit of calculation spoke this heedless young- 
lady respecting a conveyance that, as it afterwards 
turned out, assured to her the title to all those dis 
puted acres, with a quarry, two mills and a tract of 
valuable forest land. " What matters the old chan 
cery suit, now ? Better than all else, can you not 
see that this deed proves our title as coming not from 
26 



302 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

Mark Cuthbert, the equerry, but from Sir Guy Cuth- 
bert, the brother of the Prior ? Ah, what would 
Cousin Tom now dare to say about it, if he were 
here!" 

"Pie would dare to say nothing about it at all, but 
would be glad to let the whole matter drop, on the 
original terms," said a quiet voice close behind us. 

Turning, we saw a tall y.oung fellow standing just 
inside the doorway, and leaning against its post. 
He had stolen upon us unperceived, and was regard 
ing us with a certain affectation of solemn stolidity, 
his mouth drawn down and his hands clasped peni 
tently before him ; but all the while unable to repress 
the spirit of fun that gleamed in his bright hazel 
eyes. I knew, of course, that this must be Cousin 
Tom. 

" Captain Stanleigh, I believe ? " said Mabel, 
slightly inclining her head. "You must excuse me 
if I am not altogether certain, it being so long 
since " 

" Yes ; Captain Stanleigh, at your service. You 
must excuse me, as well, Miss Cuthbert, for coming 
upon you so suddenly and unexpectedly. I arrived 
only this morning, and took the train at once. The 
anxiety to see old friends, yourself, I may say, 
perhaps and Roper and and Prior Polycarp, 
who, I hope, is still strong enough to take his nightly 
promenades, though how he could ever make such a 
lively tramping with those thin sandals of his has 
always passed my compre " 

" It would not need a very wide divergence from 
the straight path, to pass your comprehension, Cap- 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 303 

tain Stanleigh. But you forget that there is a 
gentleman present who may not care about listening 
to your foolishness. This is Doctor Crawford. 
Doctor Crawford, this is my cousin, Mr. Thomas 
Stanleigh." 

" I am very happy to be able to meet Doctor 
Crawford. I recognize the name as of one learned 
in medicine and and all that, indeed. You are 
giving me a great pleasure in making his acquaint 
ance, Cousin Mabel." 

" You must know that Doctor Crawford was one 
of my father s oldest friends, Cousin Tom, and since 
his death has been my best friend, as well. Indeed, 
I do not know how I could ever have gotten along 
without him, so kind and considerate has he been in 
all his attentions, a second father to me, indeed." 

" Nothing, certainly, could give me greater pleas 
ure than to learn that Cousin Mabel has found a 
friend so eminent for kindness and distinction 
and so on. You need never fear, Mabel, that I shall 
not always value the opportunity you have given 
me to make such a pleasant acquaintance. Perhaps 
Doctor Crawford being such a friend of the family 
can tell me what I know you would not think to 
mention, Mabel whether of late the Prior has 
walked the passages with his dinner-bell over his 
head, and is it possible that, after all, I have not 
got it right, Mabel ? " 

" You are as silly as ever, Tom. And you oblige 
me to explain to Doctor Crawford that you are not 
always so foolish. He has come a long distance, 
Doctor, and must be very hungry, and it always goes 



304 PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 

to the brain and makes him flighty. It is a Stanleigh 
peculiarity." 

"Mabel is right, Doctor Crawford. I am not 
always as silly. Leaving, therefore, all such talk 
aside, let me in all seriousness thank you for your 
uniform kindness to her. Be assured that her friends 
always shall be mine, and that I will ever be glad to 
meet them. I hope, therefore, that in future you 
will not look upon me as a stranger, but will feel 
that you have gained a new friend and admirer. 
That must be so, Mabel; must it not? Doctor 
Crawford shall always find a warm welcome with 
us; shall he not?" 

" Certainly, Tom. We could never feel happy if 
we did not know that there was at least one person 
who, at any time could be sure of a sincere greeting 
at the Priory." 

All this while I had been standing before them, 
confused, embarrassed, but more than all else, filled 
with astonishment. I had not sought to say a word, 
could not, perhaps, if I had wanted to, have found 
space to put in a remark among that running stream 
of compliments, might not have been heedfully 
listened to if I had done so, seeing that they cared 
not to hear me speak, and that their conversation, 
though ostensibly directed towards myself, was 
practically meant for each other. In any other con 
dition of mind than that of my prevailing self- 
mortification, I might have felt amused at watching 
how speedily the difficulties of those two young people 
found solution. They had parted nearly two years 
ago in quarrelsome spirit, they had met again with 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 305 

affectation of ceremonious reserve which might 
possibly, oue would have hoped, wear off in time. 
And lo ! throughout all, the glad light of loving 
welcome and heart yearning reconciliation had shone 
unrestrained in each other s eyes; and in a minute, 
almost unwittingly to themselves, the sorrow of the 
past estrangement had been all forgotten and their 
engagement been renewed. All this would have 
amused me, indeed, but for my own sense of humilia 
tion. How weakly had I allowed myself to encour 
age hopes that I should have known must be baseless 
and unreal ! How foolishly had I thought that 
Mabel s frank, open welcomes at my approach could, 
have been the outpouring of anything other than a 
friendly spirit ! How sad and bitter to think that 
in myself could have been such spirit of self-deceit, 
as to dream that for me would ever shine forth that 
light of love which glowed in every feature as now 
she glanced stealthily upon the chosen one of her 
heart beside her. 

" The gig is here," interrupted Roper, as I stood 
silent, thinking how best I might frame words of 
response to all their kindly commendations. 

"It is not time? Surely you will not leave us 
yet ? " said Mabel. 

The eyes as bright as ever with spirit of kindly 
welcome, the hand extended as warmly in friend 
ship as of old; and yet, somehow, I knew at last the 
difference with which her eyes and hand would have 
welcomed Cousin Tom. And I felt, moreover, that 
however high her appreciation of me, she would not 
be greatly displeased to have me go. 
26* 



306 PRIOR POLYCARP^S PORTRAIT. 

" Thanks, Miss Mabel," I therefore said. " You 
are very kind; but a doctor s time is not all his own. 
I have a patient yet to visit to-day, old Mrs. Rab- 
bage, whose rheumatism. and therefore must tear 
myself reluctantly away." 

And with that I bowed myself out and left them 
to themselves. I have said that as I look back upon 
that scene after so many years, I can treat it philo 
sophically, and can even smile. But it is not always 
so, perhaps. Though I am now old and have long 
surrendered thoughts and dreams of love for cer 
tainty of fame and fortune, yet once in a while, on 
Christmas-day, if I chance amid the evening festivi 
ties, to hear the wind and snow outside, as on that 
afternoon at the Priory, my memory will carry me 
sadly back, and I will lift the curtain of my retro 
spection and once again look upon that parting 
^cene. The open door, always flung back so cheerily 
in my welcome, and now seeming to creak gruffly 
upon its hinges in enforcing my departure, the 
blackness of the night outside, ten-fold as dark and 
forbidding as ever before, beneath the increasing 
violence of the tempest blast, driving snow and 
cutting cold wind, this is the outside picture. 
Within, as the door closes behind me, one parting- 
glimpse of an earthly paradise, a warm room 
bright with cheerful coal lire and clustered wax 
lights, not too sombre shadows mingling with the 
prevailing brilliancy and by pleasant contrast, throw 
ing out their suggestions of homelike peace and 
comfort, the old Prior gazing down with abundant 
wealth of smiling visage, no longer upon myself but 



PRIOR POLYCARP S PORTRAIT. 307 

upon two persons who stand below him, silent, for 
the moment, in the happiness of their reconciliation, 
Tom with his arm already gliding around her waist 
and Mabel with her hand lightly resting upon his 
shoulder 

" Why so pensive, Doctor ? " at this moment some 
one laughingly asks. 

Then I drop the curtain, with a forced smile, and 
in a minute am myself again. 




^& 



CHAPTER T, 

.4.4 " 




DO not exactly comprehend you," said the 
Gnome. " That you, who can so easily 
travel up and down the wide world and at your 
own sweet will can see every thing good and pleasant 
that is to be found therein should now " 

" It may indeed be," interrupted St. Nicholas, 
" that I am becoming morbid and prejudiced and 
far from looking upon the matter in its right spirit. 
That may all very well be so. And yet, so annoyed 
and disappointed have I been with all the changes 
and perversities of the last few years, that it seems 
no more than natural for me " 

"But still " objected the Gnome; and then he 
paused. In fact, though he had his argument all 
laid out in his own mind in shapely manner, he 
scarcely knew how to present it properly for the 
other s consideration. For as yet he knew little 
about St. Nicholas real nature, or how most suitably 
to appeal to it in matter of disputation. In truth, 
they had been only a short while acquainted with 
each other. After his usual custom at that season 



312 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

of the year, St. Nicholas had taken his team to the 
extreme north, in order that it might invigorate itself 
with a breath of its native air and gain new flesh and 
strength by crunching the Arctic mosses. He had 
encamped upon that sterile plain, across which only 
glaciers seemed ever to have moved; and he must have 
had quite a shepherdlike appearance, as he leaned 
against a jagged slope of rock and watched his 
reindeer at their browsing. When the little Gnome 
had first popped his head out of the rock crevice 
to note who might be the intruder, the Saint had 
taken him for some wild animal, inasmuch as all 
that in the beginning appeared, was a round, shaggy 
head, with hooked nose and sharply pointed furry 
ears. When the whole body had at length emerged 
and stood upright, in its roughly built suit of fox 
skin, the Saint had felt compelled to recognize him 
as an intelligent being; but even then there had been 
some hesitation between them as to who should make 
the first advances toward acquaintance, so widely 
different were their styles and so unexpected the 
appearance of each one to the other. At last they had 
spoken, drawn together by some common sympathy; 
the Gnome being impelled toward St. Nicholas 
oy attraction of rotund, pleasing jollity, and St. 
Nicholas taking to the Gnome through a certain 
winsome earnestness that spread itself across every 
feature of the quaint little face. But for all thai 
they were not as yet fully acquainted; and though 
for a while they had talked together, there had not 
been any such mutual exchange of confidences as 
might lead to unembarrassed intercourse. Therefore 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 313 

it was that the Gnome, now hesitatingly beginning 
his remark stopped; and it was left to St. Nicholas 
to take up and carry on the greater part of the 
conversation. 

" I understand all that you would say," he re 
marked. " To you who keep so quiet and secluded " 
" You may well affirm that," interrupted the Gnome; 
" for I am scarcely out of my nook in the bowels of 
the earth from one end of the year to the other. It 
is a very large treasure I am obliged to guard. Gold 
and silver ornaments for the arms and legs a silver 
embossed shield and helmet a cup half filled with 
diamonds pearl head-dresses gold vases and a 
jewel-encrusted sceptre piles of ancient coin and 
many other priceless articles besides gathered 
together in distant ages and from diverse countries 
and I know not by whom, yet all the same commit 
ted to my watchful care. Well, go on." 

" To you who keep so quiet and secluded," pur 
sued St. Nicholas, " it must seem a strange thing that 
I who can so freely use the light and sunshine and 
the power of locomotion should not enjoy them 
more. And, indeed, it was not always so. Years 
ago, there was no gayer being on earth than myself, 
and more abundantly than all other times did I take 
pleasure in my Christmas Eve. It was so joyous, 
in fact, to drive from house to house, leaving boun 
tiful favors at each and making everybody happy 
along my route. But now " 

"Now ?" said the Gnome. 

" Now, indeed," continued the Saint, " not only 
does it seem that the world has altered and grown 
27 



314 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME, 

practical, making it harder work for me to satisfy 
people and cause them to be even moderately happy, 
but other things have been greatly changed, so that 
my efforts are made at much increase of bodily 
exertion and at times my pleasure becomes almost a 
toil, my life as empty as a toy balloon." 

" And how is that ? " the little Gnome inquired. 

" Firstly, I may say," was the desponding answer, 
" because of certain new and abominable styles of 
architecture coming in, making it exceedingly diffi 
cult for me to go my rounds as quickly as heretofore. 
Narrow flues, you must know and little thin chim 
neys meant only for furnace-pipes, themselves an 
unwarrantable innovation and tin tops to cure the 
smoke, as though the smoke were not needed in the 
chimney to cure hams and altogether a variety of 
new-fangled notions that may be valuable in their 
own way, but all the same make it exceedingly incon 
venient for me to slide down into the bed-rooms. 
True, I might get in at doors and windows ; but who, 
after all, would respect me, if I departed from ancient 
customs ? " 

"It might be I cannot tell how it would be 
about that," said the Gnome. " And what else?" 

"Then the tin and asphaltum roofs you can 
scarcely conceive what an annoyance they have 
already proved to my poor reindeer, who heretofore, 
on the shingles or Dutch tiles, could generally calcu 
late upon a little moss and even grass to nibble at, 
while I made my visitations below. But now, with 
the new fashion of things, they might easily starve 
to death." 



ST. NICHOLAS AND TEE GNOME. 315 

" What more ? " asked the Gnome. 

" There is a creature called Kriss Kringle who 
aas begun infringing within my domains; and with 
his pertinacious spirit of intrusion and with much 
blowing of his miserable little trumpet in his own 
praise, has succeeded, in many places in weaning 
people from their respect for me and attracting them 
into an allegiance to himself. He affects to despise 
the old-time filling of stockings, and hangs his pre 
tentious gifts upon pine trees, surrounded by short 
candles which are liable at any moment to topple over 
and set the whole thing in a blaze. Moreover, many 
people are now beginning to confound us and to call 
me Kriss Kringle; which, not being my name, is an 
insult to my person." 

" That is very bad," said the Gnome, " and more 
than the other matters which perhaps do not amount 
to much. I know very well that I should greatly 
dislike to have a rival power coming into my terri 
tory and insisting upon helping me keep watch over 
my treasure. What further ? " 

" This and to my mind it is the hardest thing 
of all to bear. You would scarcely believe it, but 
there are people who begin to imagine that I have 
no real existence that I am a myth, a mere 
abstraction, a creature of the fancy. Tell me now," 
St. Nicholas exclaimed, in the earnestness of his 
argument seizing the Gnome by the arm, " do you 
think that it is a nice thing after driving about from 
sunset to sunrise during the whole of a long winter 
night, leaving goodly gifts in almost every stocking 
and the children have learned to hang up pretty 



316 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

capacious stockings, too not to get a particle of 
credit for it ? To have boys and girls grow up 
thinking that they are very wise, and to begin dis 
believing in me and allowing their fathers and 
mothers all the merit for the gifts ? Yes, to have 
those parents not only meanly take to themselves 
the credit of all the presents, but even to pretend 
that it has been so from the very first, arid that even 
the pretty toys with which I had filled the stock 
ings of four and six year old youngsters had been 
the products of the paternal purse ? " 

"It is not a nice thing, indeed; nay, it is very 
bad," said the Gnome. 

"And that," St. Nicholas continued " is why I feel 
dispirited and disgusted with the world so barbar 
ous are its new designs and practices, so bitter the 
indifference, incredulity and ingratitude of men. 
That is why I would retire from active labor 
would even change places with yourself will per 
haps, this night, for the first time in many centuries, 
remain here in quietness and repose and altogether 
abandon my Christmas rounds." 

" Nay, I would not do that," responded the Gnome; 
and he looked sadly upon St. Nicholas, pitying his 
distress and wondering what could be done to relieve 
it and bring about a happier frame of mind. The 
dispirited air with which St. Nicholas bent over in 
persistent gazing upon the snow-clad ground the 
usually merry face now drawn out long and woebe 
gone the jolly paunch seemingly shrunk almost to 
concavity the clay pipe remaining twisted in the 
hat band, its unused condition affording the beet 



318 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

duty not to be neglected in his long established 
manner of life ; nay, he felt that were he now to 
neglect it, the society of the Gnome, far from prov 
ing a pleasure to him through the night, would be a 
reproach. Therefore, he roused himself ; yet it was 
with faint semblance of alacrity. There was that 
repose in all nature around him that predisposed him 
to lassitude. There was no breath of wind no 
movement of the low pine tufts. The little white 
reindeer were now asleep around his motionless 
sleigh even the northern light that glowed over 
the far away horizon was for the moment stilled ; 
the spears of electric brightness that had shot half 
downward from the overhanging arch remaining 
with undeviating length, like celestial stalactites. 
All things listless and quiescent; and he, of all, must 
prepare to move away, departing upon an errand 
that he had learned to hate and leaving a companion 
whom he had begun to like. But a sudden thought 
struck him. 

" If I go to-night," he said to the Gnome, " will 
you go with me ? " 

"I?" responded the other in wild astonishment, 
" you know I cannot leave home. I have ray trust to 
perform. For many centuries have I guarded the 
treasure and still must guard it. There is tradition 
that some day a griffin will come to ravish it from 
me, if possible ; and if I am not here to defend it 

" For centuries you have been awaiting the grif 
fin," said the saint, " and he has not come. For 
centuries longer he may not come. I ask of you 
only this night. I will not go alone upon my dole- 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 319 

ful round through an ungrateful world. Accompany 
me and I will go as usual. Is that too much to ask ? 
You have sometimes wished for opportunity to see 
the world; now the opportunity has come. What 
say you ? " 

" And will you bring me back to-morrow?" the 
Gnome inquired. 

"To-morrow, at dawn." 

"And will no one see me, wherever I may go? 
For I have heard that the people of the world are 
different from myself; that they are larger and 
whiter ; that they have softer faces and do not carry 
these long pointed and furry ears ; that they are all 
handsome, indeed, even as yourself, St. Nicholas. 
I would not like to meet anybody who would hold 
me up to scorn for my personal appearance, so 
homely and uncouth beside your own; I, with my 
shrunken body and you with that portly and so 
gracefully carried paunch; I, with my hairy, 
black skin and you with face so white, except where 
for its crowning beauty and for proper contrast, it 
is delicately touched off with tints of red in the 
very centre. I would not like to have my feelings 
thus hurt, " said the innocent little Gnome. 

Saint Nicholas softly stroked his face, feeling 
vastly gratified, inasmuch as he was awai e that the 
Gnome meant it all. 

" I am as I was created, that is all; " he modestly 
replied. "We cannot take any credit to ourselves 
for the way we are made. But as for yourself, being 
with me, neither of us will be visible to any one 
whom we may meet." 



320 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

" Then I will go with you," said the Gnome, hes 
itatingly. It was with mingled gladness and fear 
that he consented. He was pleased at the unlocked 
for opportunity to see the world, yet he dreaded the 
leaving behind him a neglected duty. But it would 
be for only a night; after that he would return to 
his watchful task in the bowels of the earth, there 
to remain for centuries longer, perhaps, without see 
ing a strange face. And it would be a comfort to 
him then, to think over all that he had seen and 
heard among the haunts of men. 




LH AFTER 



-1VING the Gnome no time to retire from his 
resolution, the Saint slung his pack upon 
his back, then whistled to the reindeer, which, 
awakening, fell methodically into their allotted 
places before the sleigh. A moment more and St. 
Nicholas and the Gnome were in the seat, snugly 
tucked in with bears robes. The lash was lightly 
applied, the reindeer spread out their hoofs, for 
an instant passed along the ground, then lightly 
skimmed its surface, then rose into the air, the 
Gnome for a moment clung nervously to the side of 
the sleigh, then released his hold as he felt that 
there was no actual danger, and so the journey was 
begun. 

Across a frozen sea where the ice lay piled in hum 
mocks almost mountain high, over a sterile land 
whose only effort at creative labor was the great 
glacier from whose mouth the ponderous icebergs 
broke off and so drifted adown the ocean currents, 
over other frozen seas and barren landscapes, with 
here and there bleak mountain ranges and pine sur 
rounded lakes set as icy jewels among inaccessible 
steeps, coldly reflecting the moon from their motion 
less surfaces, swiftly down to more temperate 
climates where the rugged pine gave place to elm 
and maple, but where all the same the breadth of the 



322 ST. NICHOLAS AND TEE GNOME. 

whole land lay ice-bound and snow-covered, over 
and along a beautiful river whose wintry fetters were 
worn more lightly than had been seen further 
north, so that, as the travelers journeyed along its 
entire length, they could gaze down and see how 
the thick ice at its source gradually grew thinner 
and less hard and white, until at last when nearer 
the mouth, the dark water broke through with here 
and there a pleasant ripple and further along gath 
ered strength and threw off the icy fetters and sent 
them whirling away, grinding each other to frag 
ments in impotent rage; so the swift route of St. 
Nicholas and the Gnome carried them onward. At 
last, it was near the mouth of the ever broadening 
river, where the icy covering had all been thrown 
off and the waves were dancing in celebration of 
their deliverance, there appeared a throng of dis 
tant lights, studding the darkness over many miles 
in extent; to which the Saint animatingly pointed. 
" See," he said, " the city, our destined field ! " 
The Gnome gazed eagerly downward. He had 
never seen the like before. Sometimes he had looked 
up from his desert burrow and watched the stars 
gleaming in the steel cold sky of that Arctic region 
and had tried to number them. Like those stars, 
these lights now under foot, seemed countless ; but 
there was this difference. Those stood all calm and 
motionless; these were mostly the same, yet of them 
there were many that moved as with life some 
glimmering in slow but not less perceptible passage 
along the thoroughfares some swiftly darting 
across the encircling waters of the city, and far 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 323 

away, here and there, a single light appearing and 
disappearing with regular sequence as it revolved 
upon its tall base. 

" We will descend," St. Nicholas said. " Mark 
whither I am directing my course. I well know the 
route, indeed. Between the steeple in front of us 
below and the neighboring bell tower taking our 
angles from them and thence drawing the line 
to yonder illuminated clock so that we cannot 
well go wrong. There, at least, is a place where we 
shall not fail in welcome and appreciation." 

" You know the house, then ? " remarked the 
Gnome. 

" As I know my own home," the other answered. 
" A pleasant little house, set lovingly in the midst 
of its own extended garden, only two stories high, 
with tiled and moss grown roof and chimney so 
capacious and redolent of well smoked bacon that it 
is a luxury to descend. There have I visited for fifty 
years past at times each year then again with 
intermission of a year or two, as of late, indeed, 
when failing to get around in time. Always finding 
there a hearty welcome; the fire suffered to go out, 
the hearth swept up, the very cat upon that night 
remaining indoors and lingering around the fire-place 
as though with prescience of something happening; 
all things, indeed, seeming to be arranged with 
expectation of my coming. We will descend, now, 
gently as a feather, lighting upon the roof as softly 
as a snow-flake; so making our anticipated visit to 
the household, yet careful not to awaken it." 

Now more tightly he drew the reins and guideo 



324 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

his team into a descent, gradually checking their 
pace as they dropped down. Not regulating the 
action aright toward the end, however, as it hap 
pened; for, of a sudden, the descent was arrested by 
a hard shock that set the reindeer capering in wild 
confusion, half overturned the sleigh and sent the 
Gnome and St. Nicholas out headlong upon a tinned 
roof. 

It was the roof of the celebrated Bon Ton Hotel, 
finished two months before, unknown to St. Nicholas, 
and with its ten stories stretching up so loftily, as 
naturally to have caused mishap, by checking too 
suddenly a descent adjusted for a lowlier building. 
To make sufficient space for the hotel, the little two- 
storied house had been swept away and the neat 
garden all built in, as well. The new erection was 
an object of especial and exceeding city pride and 
the public papers spoke glowingly about it. After 
their manner they described its six hundred windows, 
its mile and a half of passages and its seventy-two 
miles of lead pipe ; and when, in pursuit of further 
statistics, they dilated upon the many thousand tiles 
that made up the paving of the corridors, the popu 
lar enthusiasm could not have been surpassed. 
Nowhere was mention made of the building s size in 
simple feet and inches; and this, perhaps, was conse 
quently only known to the owner. But the impres 
sion, from all other descriptions, was naturally as 
of vast extent ; and with that the people felt obliged 
to be content and admired accordingly. To St. 
Nicholas, however, the substitution of this great 
edifice for the little old house so consecrated to 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME 325 

him by older recollections was no cause for con 
gratulation. 

" Was I not right," he said, scrambling up and 
ruefully rubbing his short, fat legs, where the skin 
had been taken off by the concussion, " in telling 
you that I should not desire to come out to-night ? 
Look, now, at this ! Where is the home at which I 
visited for fifty years the boy whom I loved as he 
grew up from the early beauty of childhood into a 
strong man whom then I loved equally for his 
noble, manly soul ? Where is the young girl whom, 
year by year, I saw developing into new beauties of 
heart and culture ? Gone ; and in their place this 
human hive!" 

" Be not dismayed at that," cried the Gnome 
coming upon his feet with smiling countenance, 
rubbing his bruises as well, but affecting to make 
little of them. " Your friends you may see again 
elsewhere who knows? Or, if not, then in this 
human hive, as you call it, you may make other 
friends," he added, a little too cheerily, perhaps. 
For, having never been enough away from home to 
note the difference between places, he had no con 
ception of the power of association; and certainly, in 
his obscurity, he had not learned how hai d it is to 
make friends and ho\v wise it is, consequently, not 
lightly to give them up when made. " Therefore, 
try not to be downcast, but let us descend." 

"And how?" demanded the Saint, disdainfully 
pointing to the nearest chimney pots. " Through 
there, indeed? Are such things worthy of one Avho 
for centuries has accustomed himself to " 
28 



326 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

" Through this, rather," responded the Gnome, 
opening a capacious scuttle in the roof and thereby 
disclosing a convenient ladder. It was wonderful, 
indeed, in that moment of his chief s dejection, to 
see with what capable energy the little Gnome took 
the direction of things. " There is proper access to 
the building why seek for chimneys as though 
nothing else would do ? Come, follow me." 

With that he bolted down into the scuttle-hole 
not descending feet foremost in the ordinary fashion 
of men, but plunging in head downward as he would 
have gone into his own rock-crevice, rabbit-like, his 
feet for a moment twinkling in the air and then his 
whole body sliding out of sight. St. Nicholas fol 
lowed somewhat sulkily. His first impulse was to 
retire altogether from the hateful scene and return 
at once to his own home. This, however, he could 
not do without abandoning the Gnome, who, for the 
time, was his guest and would have been in sore dis 
tress if left alone among strange scenes. Therefore 
he, also, after a moment, passed through the scuttle, 
slowly clambering down in the usual method, and in 
a minute the two explorers stood together at the foot 
of the ladder. 

Looking around, they found themselves in a long, 
plain hall, with uncarpeted floor and white-washed 
walls. Along each side were ranges of doors, mak 
ing it evident that a number of small rooms opened 
into the hall. At each end a single gas-bracket pro 
jected from the wall, emitting a dim and somewhat 
insufficient light. 

" What next ? " muttered the Saint. He had not 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 327 

recovered from his testiness, by any means, and now 
spoke with some assumption of indifference. If the 
Gnome were inclined to enter upon any experi 
ments so the Saint seemed to imply let him do 
so and take the consequences of resulting failure or 
unpleasantness. As for himself, he would mutely 
follow, but bear no part or liability in the matter. 

" What now, indeed ? " cried the Gnome cheer 
fully, still taking the direction of affairs. " Why, 
surely, there must be people all around us. And 
among them some who need your help and would 
be grateful for your kindness. It matters not where 
we begin ; shall we strike out at random ? " 

With that, he pushed open one of the nearest 
doors and entered, followed by St. Nicholas. The 
two found themselves in a small, poorly furnished 
room. Upon the bed and fast asleep lay a tall, slim 
negro. His frizzled hair was broadly puffed out on 
either side and his moustache carefully waxed. 
These adoi nments seemed to have suffered no dis 
composure in his sleep ; and it was evident that as a 
soldier will slumber with his arms in his hands, in 
like manner long practice had taught the negro to 
maintain his chief physical charms undisturbed by 
midnight tossings, in constant readiness for sudden 
call of duty. Upon the wall hung a green velvet 
coat, a yellow vest and pantaloons with chequer- 
board figures many inches broad. Across two nails 
lay a silver-headed cane; thrown over which, as a con 
venient bracket, was a choice collection of purple 
and orange colored cravats. It was evident, how 
ever, that these adornments were all reserved for 



328 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

holiday seasons when duty did not interfere, for on 
a neighboring chair lay spread out the costume ol 
toil the badges of servitude in the shape of black 
broadcloth coat and pantaloons. On an adjoining 
table lay the sole mitigating elements of that sad 
oppression, a linen shirt, short and somewhat 
ragged, indeed, as to its hidden portions, but 
gorgeous in front with broad display of stiffly 
starched cambric frills. 

" The Head Waiter," muttered the Saint ; at 
once, from long practice enabled to determine 
accurately the rank and occupation of the sleeper. 

" And what, therefore, from our bounty shall we 
give to him ? " the Gnome inquired, unconsciously 
in his awakened interest identifying himself with 
St. Nicholas anticipated liberality. 

St. Nicholas shrugged his shoulders and grimly 
smiled. It seemed scarcely worth while, indeed, 
he thought to select for beneficiaries such lowly 
objects as these. Yet, as for a moment he glanced 
down, he saw that the Head Waiter was smiling 
in his sleep, his face dilated widely with pleased 
anticipation of the wearing of the green velvet coat. 
Noticing this, the Saint relented. Surely it would 
be cruel, indeed, not to add something to this happi 
ness, since so easily it could be done. And being 
so, it was a curious thing to observe, how as the 
ripple of his accustomed pastime began to flow in 
upon him, the soured air of discontent for a moment 
faded away from St. Nicholas face. He even 
smiled a little with something of his olden benefi 
cence of aspect. 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 329 

" I will at least lighten the servitude of his official 
eostume," said the Saint. And with that he drew 
from his pack a brilliant breastpin composed of 
a single stone somewhat larger than a pea and 
fastened it conspicuously upon the sleeper s finely 
frilled shirt front. Though there was no light in 
the room, excepting that which shone in from the 
outer hall, the breastpin glittered in that reflected 
ray like a planet. 

" You are so wealthy !" said the Gnome, in open 
mouthed astonishment. " In all the treasure I am 
guarding, there is no diamond such as that." 

" A California diamond, but sufficient for the 
purpose," the Saint responded. Then seeing that 
the Gnome did not comprehend, he was about to 
explain the difference between the true and false. 
But on second thought he paused. Why impart a 
knowledge that in its possibilities might even make 
the Gnome suspicious of his own treasure and 
render him unhappy with cruel doubt of its real 
value ? Therefore he refrained; and merely said, 
resuming his surly tone : 

" Well, have we now done ? Hardly is it worth 
while, indeed " 

" Nay, we have perhaps scarcely commenced," the 
Gnome cheerily responded. " This may do very 
well for a beginning. But there must somewhere be 
others who are equally worthy of our bounty and 
possibly may more closely attract our sympathies. 
And here is another stairway. Let us descend and 
Bee whither it may lead us." 

28* 




LH AFTER 



they began to descend, the Gnome blithely 
leading the way and St. Nicholas moodily 
following at a pace or two behind. First passing 
down a steep, narrow and roughly finished stairway, 
they found themselves at the bottom in a long hall 
in all respects like that which they had just 
abandoned, except that it was carpeted and bore 
appearance of more perfect finish. Then came 
another stairway, wider and comfortably matted, 
and after that again a hall still better finished than 
the one immediately before. So with progression 
from one story to another; finding each stairway a 
little wider and each hall more elaborately furnished 
than the former one. It was like descending from 
a bleak mountain top, wherein, almost imperceptibly, 
the snows lessen and give place to dense pine forests 
and these again to open groves of ash and maple and 
fertile fields appear instead of the former desolation ; 
so gradual and undeviating was the passage from the 
unadorned life beneath the hotel roof to the esthetic 
culture of the stories below. And at last when 
nearly two-thirds down the Gnome arrested himself. 
It seemed to him that now they must have descended 
far enough to be assured of newer and more pleasant 
association, and he pointed to a door over which 
gleamed a light from within. 
" Let us enter there," he said. 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 331 

" As you will," St. Nicholas indifferently responded. 

The Gnome touched the door, which slowly began 
to swing back before him. Peeping in, preparatory 
to entering, however, he saw a sight that troubled 
him a little. A small symmetrical pine tree stood in 
the center of the floor. Among its boughs, as the 
basis of adornment, were pendant balls of colored 
glass, amidst which were suspended a copious array 
of gifts. Short wax candles blazed from every 
branch and shed a pleasing and festive gleam upon 
the other decorations. It was a very pretty scene, 
and the Gnome would have liked to dwell longer 
upon it. But resisting, he closed the door again 
with hasty pull, fearing greatly the effect upon St. 
Nicholas, should he, also, behold those evidences of 
a rival visitant. 

"What now?" cried the Saint, coining up just in 
time to feel the door shut in his very face. 

" There is no one there," the Gnome apologetically 
answered. " But yonder is another room, also show 
ing its light, outside. Let us enter there. We can 
not always find apartments vacant." 

It was with some perturbation that he made the 
new suggestion. What if that other room, also, 
had its Christmas tree ? What if in every room 
these evidences of Kriss Kringle s more enterprising 
handiwork had already been obtruded ? But the 
essay must be made at every risk. And when they 
had entered this new apartment, the Gnome was 
relieved to find his apprehensions groundless. Nc 
intruding pine-tree there. No occupant to the 
room, indeed ; other than a little child, scarcely six 



332 ST. NICHOLAS AXD THE GNOME. 

years old, coiled up in quiet sleep in the middle of a 
large, sumptuously furnished bed, her tiny head and 
arms scarcely visible at first sight among the frills 
and laces of the downy pillows. 

"The Pet of the House," said St. Nicholas, once 
again with his practiced sagacity defining the lot 
and station of the little sleeper. 

Now the Pet of the House had that evening been 
present at a juvenile fancy party given in the main 
parlor of the hotel and she had begun her social life 
bv being the acknowledged belle of that infant 

/ O ~ 

assemblage. For three hours she had been Marie 
Antoinette; and though, of course, not yet suf 
ficiently versed in history to enter upon her part 
with any knowledge or conception whatsoever of 
the original, she was not deficient in some vague, 
childlike comprehension of being looked upon as a 
leading character among her many companions and 
thereby entitled to more than ordinary share of 
homage. This homage she had exacted and accepted 
with an assumption of quiet self-sufficient serenity 
and composure vastly gratifying to the taste of all 
the mature spectators; and thereby, with that child 
like and unreasoning acceptation of royal dignity, 
mingling smiles and laughter with haughty con 
descension, she had chanced, perhaps, to act her part 
as fully to the life as if she had been of proper age 
to study the character from the page of history. 
Though her royal honors were now all laid aside, 
the glory of them still hung around her. On a 
chair beside the bed was spread out her embroidered 
train, with its complement of rich gold thread and 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 333 

laces; and on the nearest table rested the tiny 
powdered wig that, with the child s flaxen curls 
gathered up beneath it, had formed the head-dress of 
the day. These relics of queen-like state had care 
fully been so disposed that to the last moment 
of wakefulness the child might continue to enjoy 
them as evidences of past triumphs and might gaze 
upon them again with the morning s earliest glow. 
During the evening the Pet of the House had, of 
course, been lavishly feasted, and cakes, ices and 
macaroons, with here and there a stolen sip of 
champagne, had been abundantly pressed upon her; 
so that at the last it happened, very naturally, that 
the attentions paid to the childlike Queen had 
greatly disturbed the first slumbers of the Queen 
become again a child. Hence, doubtless, the 
presence of the paregoric beside the royal head 
dress. Headaches and tossings for a time; these 
had been the painful allotments of the little head 
and limbs. But youth is strong and soon throws 
off its unsatisfactory burdens, and for young tres 
passers upon its laws nature is swift to prove both 
kind and forgiving. Therefore it happened that 
at the hour when St. Nicholas and the Gnome 
entered, the headache had been subdued and the 
tossings composed and the Pet of the House was 
enjoying pleasant, undisturbed slumber. Yet as the 
devastation of the tempest will sometimes remain 
visible in the bright sunshine that follows, so, amid 
the tranquil smiles and regular breathing that 
marked the slumber of the little child, could be seen 
the faint pouting of the lips and the single tear glitter- 



334 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

ing upon the rounded cheek. A tear upon one 
cheek, the fellow tear to which had just been 
brushed away by the chubby right hand that rested 
upon the pillow close beside the seraph face and 
remained half closed, as though retaining the cap 
tured tear in its infantile grasp. 

The Gnome looked on, wondering and speechless, 
but filled with earnest thought. Were all the sons 
and daughters of men as beautiful as this? Pie had 
never before met with a young child seldom, 
indeed, had he beheld a human creature. He had 
seen the young of white bears, walruses and seals 
and had thought them very pretty, after a degree; 
but this child with its ribbons, laces and curly hair 
and all those adornments that help make infancy 
interesting seemed a thought more pretty than any 
of them. What revelations of novelty and interest 
were constantly being made before him ! And what 
a scene of loveliness everywhere seemed this world 
upon which he was for the first time entering ! 
Again came the wonderment that St. Nicholas 
should ever dream of treating it with despite or 
should give up any opportunity of mingling with 
and enjoying it. So thinking, he turned to look upon 
him, expecting still to find the usual indications of 
discomfiture and ill-humor. But to his surprise, he 
saw that the face of the Saint had cast off its 
morose aspect was clearing into sunshine like the 
sky after a summei- s shower seemingly was taking 
some reflection of his own admiring, grateful 
thought. Noting this, the Gnome became vastly 
cheered at heart and full of courage for any sugges- 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 335 

tion ; and therefore, still identifying himself with 
the other s liberality, as though in common owner 
ship of the fund, he said: 

"And what, from our store, shall we give this 
one?" 

"All things and every thing that a child can wish 
for, " said St. Nicholas. " Do you not see, " he 
added, pointing to the little stocking that hung 
beside the fire-place, " that here is one that is faith 
ful to me ? Do you not see how, even now, with 
dreams of my coming, she lies with face turned this 
way, so that at her first waking in the morning her 
glance shall rest, not upon foolish adornments of the 
past night but only upon my own good work in her 
behalf? Let us to work, Gnome. For once, that 
demon, Kriss Kringle shall not prevail. " 

Perhaps St. Nicholas spoke severely. It is the 
habit of a true saint, indeed, to look upon all rival 
saints as demons. But his face was so bright and 
cheery that the Gnome had no heart to make com 
ment upon his words and stooping down he assisted 
in selecting gifts from the already opened pack. 
Punch and Judy gazing enraptured upon each other 
out of the separate corners of the box tin kitchens 
complete with stove and pans and hams hanging 
upon the wall, not to speak of the black cook her 
self with skirts tucked up, using her long-pronged 
fork over the frying-pan full of painted fish a 
curly sheep that bleated and a hairy cow that lowed 
a narrow case filled to the very ends with black 
minstrels, who, at the pulling of a string beat the 
tamborine and thrummed the banjo and turned their 



336 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

white eyes from side to side in eager waiting for the 
answer to the time-honored conundrum all these 
and much besides were put into the tiny stocking or 
attached to it outside. Nothing too good, indeed, 
for the child that has not bowed the knee to Kriss 
Kringle. Once St. Nicholas drew forth a box of 
green and yellow candies and made as though he 
would put that also by the stocking, but looking 
around he chanced to see the paregoric upon the 
table and he shook his head and restored the candies 
to his pack. But instead thereof, lie produced a 
beauteous doll with every gift and appliance of 
modern ingenuity and design with gold embroid 
ered shoes and silver dress, with drooping laces and 
silver-threaded bodice and with its fair locks built 
up into labored pile, more artistic and grand, even, 
than those of Marie Antoinette a graceful doll, 
with face flesh colored to the life and piquant in 
expression as though a human soul actually lurked 
behind a doll that could open and shut its eyes 
and upon uplifting of the arms would speak. With 
this he crowned the huge pile of gifts, then at last 
buckled together his sadly shrunken pack and lifted 
it again upon his shoulder. 

" I begin now," he said, "to feel glad that I have 
come. 1 

" Is it so ? " cried the Gnome, for the moment a 
little foolishly elated with the result of his experi 
ment, as though to himself were all the credit. 
" You see, then, that I was right. Perhaps if I knew 
it, I am always right. Never after this deny that 1 
am good for something. And always when in 
trouble take a gnome^s advice." 



L RAFTER 

^ILENTLY, as fearing to disturb that infantile 
slumber, St. Nicholas and the Gnome stole 
out of the room. There was elation in each heart, 
though from different cause. The Gnome continued 
vastly pleased at the triumph which had attended 
his advice; though, constrained by exceeding good 
nature as well as by a little native tact, he forbore 
any longer to express his thought, not knowing, 
indeed, how far St. Nicholas might further listen to 
it in moderation. On the other hand the Saint felt 
his heart aglow with transports that it had not 
known for many days. It was something, indeed, 
to have prevailed over Kriss Kringle in the race for 
human preference; this alone was a subject for deep 
self-gratulation. But far more enjoyable than that 
which after all was a selfish triumph at the best 
was the knowledge that there was still an unseen 
influence pervading the world in his favor, leading 
to something like the old-fashioned allegiance, and 
that the time was not past and might never entirely 
depart, in which he could bestow his annual favom 
and find them accepted and appreciated with the 
accustomed gratitude and fervor. Yet he also main 
tained silence, not knowing, perhaps, exactly how 
to express his thoughts to the comprehension of the 
other; and so the two wandered side by side down 
29 



338 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

the broad passage. With a change, however; for 
now St. Nicholas instead of lagging moodily behind, 
kept even pace with the Gnome and again assumed 
the direction of affairs. 

Now down another flight of steps and still 
another so anew from story to story the two 
descended. And as in following yet further the 
mountain slopes the traveler may leave the tem 
perate zones and finally arrive at excess of tropical 
vegetation in all its wild luxuriance and beauty, so 
in their descent through the Bon Ton Hotel, St. 
Nicholas and the Gnome continually reached new 
developments of lavish and supei b adornment. 
Rich carpets beneath the feet, deadening the sound 
of heaviest footfall, bright fresco paintings in 
arabesque upon the walls, the dim, half-turned 
down light, gleaming from massive chandeliers, at 
each end, mirrors covering the whole extent and 
appearing to repeat the scene to indefinite endless 
distance to all this the descent at last led. To 
St. Nicholas such things were already familiar ; 
but to the Gnome they presented all the zest of 
novelty. Truly he had never beheld the like of 
this; and for the instant he lamented that he should 
ever be obliged to go back to his service in the 
rocks. In a moment, however, he recovered him 
self. Let the future take care of itself ; why should 
he not enjoy the present, without the bitter ming 
ling of useless repining? After all, was he not 
better off than most gnomes, who, doubtless, never 
had any opportunity to move away from their 
ceaseless monotonous trusts ? Therefore, bracing 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 339 

up his miud for unimpaired enjoyment of the 
pleasant present, he threw back his head and 
cheerfully strode down the corridor at St. Nicholas 
side. Had it be en possible for any one passing 
through at that hour of the night and meeting the 
two strangers to penetrate the invisibility that 
enveloped them, he would have been vastly amazed 
at the spectacle. St. Nicholas, short and fat 
seeming shorter and fatter than he really was, by 
reason of his thick white furs and the broad basket 
that he carried at his back, the Gnome so much 
shorter still that he scarcely reached to his com 
panion s shoulder and waddled as he strove to 
bring his little thin legs up to the other s more 
rapid pace, in figure thinner than the Saint, and 
with his sable furs forming strong contrast with 
him, keen and inquiring of expression, and alto 
gether partaking of the grotesque, through the 
unaccustomed combination of little bright, weasel- 
like eyes, sharp nose and pointed furry ears ; 
these two formed a couple never before seen in 
hotel hall and who would have filled a stranger 
with astonishment and awe. But they remained 
unseen and plodded on for a moment silent and 
uninterrupted. Once, only, the longings of the 
Gnome found vent, as he considered whether he 
might not mingle the pleasures of the world and 
the requirements of his duty together. 

" It is a novel and a beautiful world," he sighed. 
" Could I only bring mv treasure here to guard" 

/ O v 

" Could you do so," St. Nicholas interrupted, 
" you would be obliged to maintain it in such 



340 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

unceasing conflict against the violence and craft of 
men that the incursions of griffins would seem to 
you merely child s play." 

So the Gnome, for the moment, said no more, and 
they passed onward through the midnight stillness. 
Not altogether through perfect silence, perhaps. 
There were two call-boys with ice-water quarrelling 
in the main hall and threatening each other with 
their pitchers. A group of chambermaids sat loudly 
giggling, in the deep recess of an end window. The 
office clerk came passing onward to his room with 
stately tread. Three belated travellers with four 
porters in the rear sat down upon their trunks in 
the main hall to talk over their adventures, while a 
waiter who had brought up the wrong keys went 
back for the right ones. Two waiters bearing 
material for a midnight supper noisily jostled their 
laden trays together ; and mistakingly seeking 
entrance to the wrong room brought forth uproar 
ious expostulation from the unduly awakened 
occupant. And a porter who had been keeping 
Christmas eve a trifle too freely came stumbling 
along with armful of boots, picking up new ones at 
each door and unconsciously dropping old ones, blaz 
ing his path thereby through the long hall, like 
Hop o my Thumb with his crumbs through the 
wilderness. With these trivial exceptions,-the main 
hall of the Bon Ton Hotel was wrapped in tomblike 
silence. 

It is easy to get lost in the Bon Ton Hotel. Men 
have been known to spend many hours endeavoring 
to extricate themselves from the tangled maze of its 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 341 

interminable passages. But by wisely following the 
more direct corridors and keeping in those which 
were broadest and noting their position by the line 
of chandeliers, St. Nicholas and the Gnome escaped 
all vexatious complications and succeeded in con 
fining their route entirely to the more attractive 
portion of the house. For a time they resisted all 
temptations to stop, though they passed many doors 
similar to the last and with appearance of lights 
burning inside choosing rather to await some 
subtle inspiration to direct them. At length the 
inspiration appeared to come, for suddenly St. 
Nicholas pointed to a door at the end of the hall, 
not in the least differing from other doors along the 
same range and said : 

" Let us here enter." 

" Do you know," said the Gnome, with a smile of 
cheery assent, a little loth as yet to give up the scep 
tre of direction, " that I was about to say the same 
thing myself ? It seems to me, also, that here we 
may find something to interest and entertain us. 
Yes, let us enter." 

With that St. Nicholas touched the door, which, 
gently opening, admitted them. They found them 
selves in an apartment so similar to that of the Pet 
of the House that it might easily have been mistaken 
Tor it, except for some alterations dictated by indi 
vidual taste and thereby varying it from the cus 
tomary pattern of the place. Though the hour was 
now so far advanced, the occupant of the room had 
not yet retired, but was sitting by the open grate 
fire, seemingly buried in deep reflection. Evidently 
29* 



342 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

her half-completed toilet for the night had been sus 
pended by no ordinary interruption of thought, for 
she remained motionless as a statue, her long, wavy 
hair hanging loosely down her back, a shawl thrown 
around her shoulders, her naked feet thrust into 
embroidered slippers and lightly balanced upon the 
fender, her arm raised from her knee to support her 
face half concealed in the upturned palm. 

"And what from our bounty shall we give her for 
this new Christmas day ? " said the Gnome. 

At the question, St. Nicholas approached her with 
gentle step, and looked over her shoulder ; with 
intent, perhaps, by a nearer view, to gain some ink 
ling of her tastes. Then, for the first time, he saw 
that she held in her hand a little miniature ; upon 
which, as her gaze turned from the fire, she dwelt 
fixedly, and, as it would seem, with tender interest. 
At the Saint s first glance, his face already becoming 
so cheery broke out into newer and more expansive 
brightness, and with all the eagerness of sudden unan 
ticipated delight he seized the Gnome by the hand. 

"It is they!" cried St. Nicholas. "I have found 
them at last." 

"And who are they?" responded the Gnome. 
" And they being found, whoever they are, what from 
our store of bounty shall we" 

" Can you not imagine, Gnome ? She, the daughter 
of the house that stood here ; the house that I had 
so longed to see and that has given place to this. 
He, the lover, who two years ago was constant to 
her and must be constant still. Coming daily, with 
the favor and authority of all who had any claim 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 343 

upon her ; seeing that, though poor in worldly goods, 
he was gifted in heart and intellect. Even then I 
foresaw that the friendship between the two would 
ripen into betrothal ; and now that I view her with 
his portrait in her hand, how can I believe other than 
that it has so come about ? " 

" It would seem so, indeed," answered the Gnome. 

"A fine young fellow, indeed, with heart overflow 
ing with love and with a brain that will some day 
make him famous. As full of science as a Noah s ark is 
full of animals. Why, he could dig down into your 
cave, and from the very look of the rocks each side 
could tell you how long it has been there, bow loug 
it took to form. Nay, if your treasure had always 
belonged there as a portion of nature s store and 
had not been brought from elsewhere, he could tell 
you from a long distance off just where it lies." 

"A dangerous person to have around one, I should 
think," said the startled Gnome. 

"Further than that," St. Nicholas continued, " he 
could look into some rock, created at a time when 
griffins were more plentiful than now, and could pick 
from the solid wall a talon here and a scale there, 
and tell you for a certainty whether there were any 
griffins yet alive or not." 

" That were a better thing to do," said the Gnome. 
And he wondered whether griffins might not be 
really extinct, and whether, if so, the fact could be 
known to science, and whether he might not then 
leave the treasure unguarded, as no longer exposed to 
evil influences and take up his abode in the bright 
world of sunshine and enjoyment. "Yet if this 



344 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE G-NOME. 

maiden loves him and is so much beloved," he added, 
returning, like the sensible Gnome he was, to the 
business in hand, "why is she unhappy? Why are 
there tears upon her cheek ? " 

" Tears ! Can it really be ?" exclaimed St. Nich 
olas; and with that he moved around further toward 
the young- girl s right hand, for as yet he had merely 
been standing behind where he could only see her 
face in partial relief. And now he noticed that the 
tears actually stood in her eyes; and, as he gazed, one 
transparent drop loosened from her long eye-lashes 
and rolled down and breaking, spread over the face 
of the miniature. She brushed it tenderly away 
with her laced handkerchief ; then, for a moment, 
laid the picture one side. A moment more of silent 
contemplation of the fire, then she gathered up out 
of her lap a small bundle of letters, all in the same 
handwriting. These, one by one, she glanced over 
rather than deliberately read. They seemed, indeed, 
to need no careful reading, so familiar to her must 
have been their contents. One of these perhaps 
not better than the others but regarded merely as 
type of all she placed aside to save, then made 
a motion as though to lay the others on the fire. If 
her purpose therein was destruction of the letters, 
her heart failed her, for she withdrew her hand and 
the letters again fell spread out in her lap. And 
then, leaning back in the chair and covering her 
whole face with her hands, she broke forth into more 
undisguised weeping, the hot tears stealing between 
her fingers and falling upon miniature and letters 
alike. 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 345 

" This is serious, indeed, " said the Saint, " and I 
cannot pretend to comprehend it all at once. " He 
stood aside ; and for a moment, with his finger beside 
his nose reflected, then spoke again. " I cannot 
believe that the lover has played her false ; there is 
truth itself written in every feature truth and 
unswerving constancy. Truly, I am at a loss for 
the meaning of all this. " 

"May it not be," said the Gnome, and he spoke 
hesitatingly, as one whose experience was so limited 
that it was scarcely worth while offering an opinion, 
"may it not be listen now. I am very poor. Of 
the treasure committed to my care, I own nothing ; 
all I own is my fur suit and my lodging in the rock. 
At times I crawl up and look at the stars and watch 
the birds and the seals at their play, and this is all 
my amusement. Yet I am content. My life is a 
happy one, upon the whole, and I ask no more out 
of it. But I have sometimes wondered what would 
be in my mind if the treasure belonged to me. At 
the first thought, indeed, it would seem that if I 
were content with nothing, I could not be less than 
content with much. And yet" 

" Yet, you would say ?" 

" It seems to me, on the other hand, that the very 
incompleteness of the treasure, about which now I 
care nothing, would then distress me ; and that 
being thus rich I could not be happy unless I made 
myself more so. I would desire that the gold vase 
should have its double and that the copper cup that 
holds the diamonds should be full to the brim; that 
all the silver coin should be exchanged for gold ; 



346 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

that the jeweled sceptre should have its true accom 
paniment of jeweled sword. I would be restless 
and miserable beyond conception and would find 
my contented nature changing unless I could fulfill 
my whole desire. And, doubtless, if I had children 
I would learn not to secure simple tastes or lives for 
them ; but I would wish to mate them with other 
gnomes, if such there be, whose wealth of treasure 
might equal or even surpass my own." 

"And then?" St. Nicholas demanded, seeing 
that the other hesitated. 

" Well, that is all, I think, excepting this, that 
I would suggest from it. If man-nature is any 
thing like gnome-nature, might it not have hap 
pened that the man who was so amply contented 
with his small house and garden, while he believed 
it worth little, now that he has become rich should 
have learned to nourish other and more brilliant 
ambitions than heretofore? This, too, not merely 
for himself but for his child, so that " 

" I see it all," cried the saint. " Yes, it must be 
so, indeed. There can be no doubt. Come now 
with me. Since she is here, the others cannot be 
far distant. The night wears on apace and we 
have much still to do." 

" And she," said the Gnome, " this favorite of 
your true friendship, shall we leave her without 
one gift to signify our presence ?" 

" See, she sleeps," responded the saint. The 
young girl still sat reclining in the cushioned chair, 
but her hands had softly fallen from before her face 
and now rested in her lap. Nature, for the time, 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 34 7 

had conquered grief and her eyes were closed in 
quiet slumber. There was no sign of sorrow or 
turmoil now upon that tranquil face rather a 
smile of sweet contentment; except that in the 
flickering fire-light a single tear glittered like a 
jewel upon one cheek and spoke of the trouble that 
lately had been. " She is at rest ; I will give her 
the choicest gift at my command a pleasant 
dream a dream of coming reconciliation and 
reunion." 

He waved his hand lightly over her forehead, beam 
ing the while gently upon her upturned face. At 
once her smile became more intense and radiant, 
her eyes half opening for the moment, not in wake- 
fulness but rather from the inner straining of the 
soul urging her to meet one coming to her with 
equal love in his heart, her lips feebly murmured 
words inarticulate, but doubtless words of welcome. 

"Tell me this," cried the Gnome, scarcely pleased 
at what he saw. " You are not deceiving her with a 
dream of what may never be ? Xot giving her a 
pleasant vision from which she must awaken to new 
miseries rendered more burdensome by reason of 
the one transient contrast of happiness? That were 
a cruel thing, indeed, to do." 

" Have no fear of that," said the Saint. " It 
would be a wrong to her for which I could not for 
give myself. If I bestow upon her the blessing of 
a sweet dream, it is because I hope, through my 
good management, to have it continued for her 
increasing happiness, in her rewakening. Now let 
us go." 



CHAPTER V, 

tHEREFORE they turned away ; but not 
through where they had entered. There 
was another door at the side, and St. Nicholas 
directed himself thither, rightly judging that it 
must lead to other apartments of the family. 
Passing through, they came at first into a large 
parlor, and after that into another bedroom, in which 
slept two persons. 

Approaching the bed, the visitants gazed down 
upon it. Two persons, as has been said, occupied 
it, a man and a woman, both past the middle 
period of life, though not as yet showing marks of 
old age. To the woman there was a round, pleasant 
face, well filled out with health and ruddy withal 
the face of one whose life had been an easy one 
from the beginning. Had poverty or distress been 
its lot, at any period, for a series of years, it would 
have left its traces in thinness or in care-engraved 
wrinkles, or more than all these, in that worn, suffer 
ing expi ession of anxiety which long battling with 
the world scarcely ever fails to bring. Yet all the 
same there was token of present sorrow upon that 
face not far enough continued, indeed, to produce 
permanent impress, but which, perhaps, might yet 
have that result if unduly protracted. A thoughtful, 
disturbed expression a sorrowful falling of the 



ST. NICHOLAS AXD THE GNOME. 349 

lips wakefulness that could not be conquered nor 
would yield to cairn philosophy a mute look of 
despair in the wide-open eyes a turning toward 
her companion with some sort of apprehension, as 
though ill at ease in his society and constantly 
dreading outbreak nay, that certain sad indication 
of disturbance, a tear yet undried upon the cheek. 

" Tears tears everywhere," St. Nicholas mut 
tered. " Upon the cheek of infant, maiden and 
mature age. This certainly should not be so upon 
Christmas day." 

Then he turned to look at the woman s companion. 
A bluff, gruff, roughly cast man, at the first sight 
seemingly one who was always ready to invite dis 
sension, the sharp quills of his moral nature all stand 
ing up on end, in alertness to meet attack. This 
grim face, full of hard lines and angles as though it 
had been carved out of thickly knotted wood, in any 
condition of being might have seemed well calcu 
lated to treat the world aggressively, riding it tyran 
nically and remorselessly down and over ; now, in the 
accessory adornment of a long cotton night-cap with 
frayed tassel, it appeared almost appalling. And 
yet, more closely examined, it was not naturally a 
face to be afraid of, but rather under better circum 
stances to love. There were finely, even delicately 
cut features, lips that showed by their curve that 
they could be trained to smile ; in fine, it was the 
face of one who should attract rather than repel and 
surely would have done so, if from long habit or 
assumed system the better nature had not been over 
come. Such as he was, the doubt and sorrow and 
30 



350 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

nervous tremor of his wakeful wife gave him no dis 
turbance, for his eyes were closed and his mouth 
open and in common with the saints of the earth he 
was sleeping the sleep of the just. 

" How shall we manage him ? " said the Gnome, 
thus somewhat varying his question. 

" It may, perhaps, be a harder task than I had 
anticipated," said St. Nicholas, after a moment of 
silent inspection. " Yet hitherto I have not failed 
in more desperate undertakings. If he would only 
awaken " 

" I will arrange that for you," cried the Gnome. 

And stooping down, he ran the furred prickly point 
of one of his ears into the right ear of the sleeper, 
who thereupon, at the unusual tickling, jumped, 
choked and sneezed and almost at once became 
wide awake. 

" What now ? " he gruffly said, turning towards 
his wife, whom he naturally believed to be the person 
who had disturbed him. 

" I did not say any thing, " timidly she answered, 
" except I would like to say it now, for it is long 
past twelve, is it not ? Merry Christmas, dear. " 

" Bah ! What is Christmas ? " he snapped back. 
" Only a time when I must empty out my pockets 
for people I don t care about, that is all. As for 
the mischief of it, don t you know that the Board 
is closed on Christmas day? Almost every day for 
1 he last six months at the Stock Board I have made 
nearly a thousand dollars, while to-day it will be not 
a cent, of course. Suppose all the brokers are cut 
off from like profits ; can t you figure up the gross 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 351 

loss to the business community, by reason of closing 
the Board for this one day ? A good, round sum, I 
can tell you. And all for Christmas. " 

"I don t know any thing about that ; of course, 
you can tell best. But there was a time when you " 

"Yes, before I knew any thing about the world; 
I am wiser now. " 

" We were so happy, then ;" she persisted. " Per 
haps it is better not to become so wise, if it takes 
away all the pleasure of it. You and I, dear, 
and and our child ; and now she she is so 
wretched and " 

" Will get over it well enough, just as other girls 
get over it. And I tell you what ; sending that 
fellow off and letting her know that she must never 
have any thing more to do with him is the best 
move I ever made. What is he, after all, with his 
foolish care for science ? If he could tell how best 
to get a railroad through the mountains without too 
much tunneling, indeed, it would be worth while. 
But what is the good of learning about all the rocks 
that lie five miles deep in Maine or Georgia ? Who 
cares for them, indeed ? " 

" And yet " - 

" Yes, I know all that. We have enough for 
both, you would say. But no one ever has enough ; 
no one, no matter who he is, can ever have enough 
of any thing for both of anybody else. Let the 
young fellow give up his foolishness and come into 
my office and learn to make a little money for him 
self ; and then, perhaps, after a year or two, some 
thing may be done. There, enough of that, now ; 



352 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

I don t want to hear another word about it, ever. 
Are you ever going to let me go to sleep, old lady, 
or ain t you ? " 

With that he drew his night-cap a little closer 
over his head as if for necessary protection from her 
expected expostulations, turned upon his side, 
opened his mouth with a preliminary snarl and in a 
moment was once more fast asleep. 

" Wake him up again, Gnome," said St. Nicholas. 

The Gnome once more bent over and with the 
furred tip of his long ear tickled the sleeper upon 
the side of the face. Again the sleeper puffed and 
sneezed and gave a violent start, this time leaping 
into a sitting posture, and clapping his hand hastily 
to the side of his face, gazed round at his wife. 

" It wasn t she this time, anyhow," he said. " I 
thought it was a fly ; but, of course, it could not be 
a fly at this season of the year, either. Whatever 
it was, its pretty certain I can t get asleep to-night. 
I might as well read my letters, I suppose. " 

Up to that moment the room had been only dimly 
lighted, but now the old man reached forth his hand 
and turned the light on at full blaze. Then he sought 
for his spectacles upon the table beside him, put them 
on and was ready for work. And with this intent, 
he stretched forth to secure a package of letters that 
lay upon the same table. But at the same instant, 
St. Nicholas drew from his ever-ready pack two 
folded papers and laid them on top of the pile of 
letters. 

" Let me see," said the old gentleman, lifting off 
one of the papers and opening it. " From Gurgle 



Sr. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 353 

& Wallopy, I suppose ; about the margin in Great 
Western Why, bless my soul ! What s this ? " 

Inclosed in the envelope, was the painting in minia 
ture of a boy of about eight years old ; a beautiful 
boy, with long flaxen locks and erect, lithe figure 
and open, generous expression and undoubted manly 
beai ing. 

" It is your picture turned up again," said the wife. 
" Though how " - 

" That s the queer thing about it," he exclaimed. 
" I supposed it had been lost years ago. Well, well ; 
what a meek, milk-and-water looking young fellow 
I was, to be sure ! " 

" Not so, dear. A very pretty boy, indeed. So 
they all said. Brave, manly and generous ; and in 
all things " 

" In all things better than I am now ? " he inter 
rupted, turning upon her with some suspicion of her 
trying to interweave an unpleasant, uncomplimentary 
truth. 

" I didn t say so, did I ? Of course, you must be 
different now ; that is to be expected. Certainly a 
man must be other than a boy. If you were only 
now a little more trustful in kind fate somewhat 
more ready to believe, as formerly, that there was a 
good Providence over us Do you remember what 
a queer little tot I was then, only two years younger 
than you ? And how, even then, you used to call me 
your little wife and say you meant to marry me some 
day and that I should have a carriage and two 
horses?" 

"And I kept my word, didn t I, old lady? You 
30* 



354 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

have the carriage and two horses, do you not?" he 
responded, a certain flicker of good nature interweav 
ing itself with his habitual grimness. 

" Yes, we have it. Perhaps when it came, we took 
it too much as matter of course, caring little about 
it and having so many other things to make us 
happy. Do you know, it seems to me that it is only 
since we became rich that we have felt ourselves 
anxious and in need ? Before we learned how valu 
able were the old house and garden, there were no 
more contented people than ourselves in all the world. 
How little, then, we thought of money for itself, 
rather than for what it might enable us to do for 
others ! You were so cheerful and well pleased with 
every piece of kind fortune, no matter how small. 
And as for our child " 

"There, there; I knew of course that you were 
coming to it," interrupted the other, " she and he 
always on your mind and scarcely ever out of your 
mouth. Really, it cannot be you must know that 
as well as I do. He lias nothing at all ; and as for 
us, it is only lately that I have learned how much 
more we ought to have to be as rich as we should be. 
Trust a man for that. And go to sleep now it is 
already near morning. Did you say Merry Christ 
mas to me a while ago? Well, Merry Christmas 
back again; and so, good night." 

He said it with a sort of sullen snap, as though he 
were not used to it and considered it a childish per 
formance and went into it only to please her. Per 
haps that was his thought. And yet as he spoke, 
somehow a wrinkle or two smoothed out of his fore- 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 355 

head and a trifle of more generous feeling seemed 
apparent for the moment in his expression. He 
sighed softly to himself, also, as he took the picture 
again and gazed upon it before replacing it upon the 
table. A milk-and-water young fellow ? Well, no, 
not exactly that. There was really something nice 
about that face he might admit it now, since lie 
was so different that the admission could scarcely be 
called personal praise. He could remember now, 
very dimly, how as a boy, people seemed attracted 
by him; now they appeared inclined rather to flee 
away. This was because he had had to fight his 
way, of course, and had not learned to make himself 
too agreeable to most people. It was not natural, 
indeed, that the grown man could ever remain 
bright looking and simple hearted like the boy. 
And whether it w r as pleasant or not to feel so 
changed, it could not be helped and he must abide 
by it. But again he sighed and for a few moments 
he lay still, with his hands clasped behind his head, 
in deep and somewhat disturbed train of thought. 

"But this is not Gurgle & Wallopy s report," 
he muttered at length, arousing himself. " Surely 
their letter must be somewhere here." 

Again he stretched forth his hand, lifted a paper, 
opened it and uttered an exclamation of surprise: 

"Another of those old pictures!" he cried out. 
" I thought, wife, that they had all been lost." 

" I thought, indeed, that this had been lost at our 
moving," she said. "I am so glad it has turned up 
again. It is the picture you gave me when first we 
became engaged. Oh, how handsome it is ! " 



356 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

> 

Very handsome, indeed ! The full length minia 
ture of a young man of twenty, erect, pure-hearted, 
confident of his future and full of manly impulses 
and aspirations. The figure of the lad of eight 
grown to man s estate, yet not having as yet lost his 
identity ; the candor, generosity and purity of the 
boy remaining intact and visible upon the likeness, 
with the full strength, purpose and daring of man 
hood superadded. As the woman now gazed tear 
fully upon the picture, the husband also looked on ; 
and, before he was aware of it, his accusing conscience 
was aroused and forced him into self-betrayal. 

" Surely I never looked as well as that ! " he said. 
" So different from now." 

" Yes, it was a likeness then, never any better," 
she answered. " Do you remember when you gave 
it to me? We were standing at the well in the 
country; and you placed this in my hand and told 
me that at last you had the place in the counting- 
house and we could look forward to an assured 
future if we were moderately prudent. It was not 
much, indeed, that you had, and I had nothing at all ; 
but how happy we were for many years, creeping 
upward in the world and making the most of the 
little we had ! We used to read together in those 
days, and you wished that you could study more, 
and regretted that necessity compelled such other 
labors, and said that if ever you became rich and 
our little girl " 

" That young fellow, eh ? At it again, old lady ? " 
he said, this time not unkindly. 

" Yes, dear, all about him again. For you know 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 357 

that he is worthy, and, but for the accident that he 
is not rich, you would have nothing now to say 
against him. You have already almost promised 
him. True, there has been no word given, but 
you have let him come again and again for two 
years past and when away he has been allowed 
to write and it has been all but a complete promise 
between them. Turn him not away, now. If once 
we could trust so firmly in our not certain future, 
can you not put faith in .theirs, with honors of the 
world so ready to be showered upon him, as well as 
all the help we can give and not in the least miss it 
from ourselves? You have been unkind to your 
child this last day. Believe me, she will not soon 
get over it. Is it so easy to recover from that kind 
of blow ? Suppose, when you had given me your 
picture, my father had said that you were not rich 
enough; what would I have done?" 

" You ? " responded the husband, essaying a laugh. 
" Why, you would have come all right in a week and 
forgotten me, I suppose. But I " " with a tremu 
lous little cough, " I believe that I should have 
broken my heart." 

" Then do not let his poor heart or hers be broken 
with the same cruel disappointment. I have been 
at her side this night and she is sitting up in tears 
and deep despair, refusing to be comforted. Could 
you but see her, your resolve would surely melt, I 
know. Dear husband, you have asked me what I 
would choose for Christmas present. You have 
offered any thing that wealth can furnish jewels 
and dress or whatever else the soul could crave. 



358 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

Give me none of these, I care not for them. What 
peace could they ever give me, with our child lying 
broken hearted at my feet ? For sole Christmas 
present, give me our child s happiness ! Let me go 
to her this minute and tell her that when you spoke 
unkindly to her you were in jest or in some trouble 
of the moment and that you meant it not ! " 

For a minute or two, he remained silent. One 
might have thought that he had not been listening 
to her. And yet, there was a gathering moisture in 
his eyes and one by one the wrinkles still seemed 
to smoothe themselves out of his rugged forehead. 
In his right hand he yet held the portrait of himself 
at twenty and while she spoke lie had been dreamily 
gazing upon it. At the beginning, indeed, with the 
same cold curiosity with which he had looked at it, 
upon its first discovery ; then with gathering inter 
est and something akin to an expression of mournful 
regret. It had been rightly said, a moment past, 
that the mature man cannot look altogether like the 
boy ; and yet it is none the less true that if the man 
be endowed with noble character, some of the 
physical traits of the honest-hearted boy may 
remain. Therefore, though that little portrait spoke 
not of advanced age or darkening face or increasing 
baldness of forehead or here and there a wrinkle, 
yet in the older man there should still have been 
something of resemblance to it, were it merely in 
its pleasant, engaging look, winning eye and impress 
of serenity and peace. 

An hour ago, the face that rested upon the pillow 
had borne little of such likeness, indeed. A hard, sterp 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 359 

face, as has been intimated, repulsive and unsym 
pathetic, fierce, aggressive and repugnant seeming 
to bristle with offense and sordidness. But now, as 
the man sat and listened to the pleadings of his wife 
and gazed upon the picture in his hand that pic 
ture of his better past life and felt how true would 
be her reproaches were she unkind enough to make 
them, felt, indeed, his own heart reproach him more 
severely than she could ever be driven to do, felt 
how little she would have had to plead with him for 
any thing in the former days of confidence and love; 
there came forgotten, crushed out sympathies of 
soul, struggling to the surface. And with their new 
expression, something of the purer and better man 
crept into his face; and already it seemed as though, 
with renewal of long lost tender graces, the hidden 
likeness of his former self would be renewed. 

" If I answer yes, old lady," he responded, affect 
ing a jesting humor he did not feel, " will you then 
say nothing more and let me sleep?" 

"Ah, dear!" exclaimed the delighted woman, 
" now I know that you are going to be kind again, 
even as in the old times." 

" Then go; and before you do so a merry, merry 
Christmas to you ! And now, give rne your Christ 
mas kiss." 

For a moment they wrapped their arms about each 
other these two old people with all the loving 
fervor of their long past youth. 

" Do you know," she said, releasing herself, " that 
this seems more like the Christmas of our youth than 
any thing that has happened since ? Can you remem- 



360 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE QNOIHE. 

ber how, when children, we would awaken early to 
see what St. Nicholas had brought us ? It was a 
joyous time for us; and yet, if the value of what 
could be given were the true test and measure of 
joy, surely never was heart more lightened than 
mine is now, at having that gift of our household 
happiness placed within my keeping. It almost 
seems as though St. Nicholas himself had come again 
to guide our hearts and impulses right." 

"True, it might seem so," he said with half a sigh; 
" for certainly, old lady, something has come over 
me to-night to make me yield more easily to you 
than I should have thought possible. But after all, 
the fancies of our youth must be left apart forever. 
There is no St. Nicholas." 

" No I suppose there is not there never can 
be," she said, as in slow pondering, " the dreams of 
childhood can never be restored. And yet, what 
if childhood, in that respect, were wiser than age, 
and there were actually truth in what we learn after 
ward to call untrue ? What if there were really a 
kind St. Nicholas standing invisibly beside us, guid 
ing our thoughts into more noble channels than they 
find throughout all the rest of the year teaching 
us" 

" Go to you are a foolish woman," he interrupted. 
"And now, take up your gift of happiness, as you call 
it, and bear it away to the other room, lest I repent 
and recall it." 

She smiled and kissed him once again; then sliding 
from the bed, slipped through the door into the 
other room to tell the joyful tidings awakening 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 361 

thus the child from the pleasant dream that the Saint 
had given, but leading her into a lasting reality of 
happiness, whereof the dream truly had been merely 
a transient shadow. And he, the husband, lying 
back upon his pillow, no longer thought about his 
stocks and bonds; but picturing out his other better 
days, felt his face again become genial with youth 
ful innocence and generosity and his heart glowing 
with a serenity it had not known for months. The 
portrait was once more growing very like, indeed. 




(CHAPTER 



l\ AO/> ILL he keep his word ? " said the Gnome, 

\iVm~^ 

r^c) as he and St. Nicholas slowly left the 
room. 

" He will do so," responded the Saint. " Even 
Avere he to repent of it, scarcely will he now depart 
from his promise. That to him will be sacred, 
even as a mercantile guaranty given in the outer 
world. And now, what more can we do to-night?" 

7 O 

" Nothing, I should think," said the Gnome. 
" Hardly could you hope for such another triumph 
as that, to-night. And see ! the day is near at hand, 
and we should now depart." 

In fact, already there came a faint glow of dawn 
stealing in at the end window of the hall, confusing 
all the light and making the artificial brightness 
within grow dim. Then came a servant along the 
hall, putting out each gas-jet, so that the light of 
day seemed to pour in from the end window with 
stronger power, and having it all its own way, made 
every thing almost as bright as before and constantly 
brighter still. Then from all sides began to gather 
the hum of people awakening from their slumber, 
and here and there the not always deadened footfall 
of more early riser. A waiter tripped along with 
call-book in his hand, looking for No. 85; which 
being found, he rapped loudly at the door and sum- 



$? . NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 363 

moned 85 to arise and take the early train. No. 85 
remaining asleep or willfully obstinate, the waiter 
rapped the louder, greatly disturbing all the neigh 
borhood ; whereat, No. 87, alongside, cried out in 
wrath, and No. 86, opposite, appeared and assisted 
in the loud expostulation. The waiter, taking it not 
kindly but rather as an infringement on his vested 
right to make a noise, answered profanely; upon 
which, other doors on all sides were thrown open, 
and Christmas being a day devoted to frolic, the 
several occupants of the rooms took up the matter 
in exceedingly lively spirit of jest and overwhelmed 
the waiter with bitter sarcasms and threatened fell 
showers of boots, causing him to swear the louder. 
Just then, a porter coming down the nearest flight 
of steps with heavy trunk upon his shoulder, turned 
around to watch the contest, and doing so, swept 
off the glasses from the nearest chandelier ; whereat 
he grew afraid and nervous and his foot slipping he 
and the trunk rolled down stairs together. Upon 
this, a bevy of chambermaids hearing the noise 
gathered above to see what might be the matter ; 
and one of them leaning too far forward lost her 
balance and tumbled over the banisters onto the floor 
below. Whom, then, a crowd of waiters at once 
surrounded ; and finding her somewhat bruised, sat 
her upon the gong and carried her off to her own 
room. In fact, it became evident that this portion of 
the Bon Ton Hotel was being pretty well awakened. 
" Yes, it must surely be time for us to go," mur 
mured the Gnome, a little frightened and thinking 
for the moment that though the world was very 



364 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

beautiful it was perhaps unduly noisy. " But let us 
step in here and wait until the tumult all is past." 

He pointed to an opening beside the hall a little 
space scarcely six feet across, adorned from top to 
bottom with carved and polished wood of different 
colors and upon each of the four sides a plate glass 
mirror. In the centre was swung a brazen chan 
delier with cut glass shades. There were no chairs, 
but merely a cushioned seat that ran around the little 
recess, close against its wall. Into this recess St. 
Nicholas and the Gnome retreated, to tarry until the 
passing by of the group of waiters with the bruised 
chambermaid. But scarcely had this happened when 
there came a sudden new wonder. For from the fur 
ther end of the hall, slowly approaching and visible 
only to St. Nicholas and the Gnome, there appeared 
a single figure. Taller than St. Nicholas and not as 
stout with dark fur coat brought partially over 
the face with deep hood not so closely though, but 
that it let a grave saturnine face be seen, half covered 
with long gray beard. Over one shoulder a small 
pine tree and in one hand a heavy bunch of colored 
candles. A well-filled pack, also, strapped upon the 
back ; but seeming somewhat, in its make up, unlike 
the pack belonging to St. Nicholas. Here and there a 
doll or a colored toy, indeed; but for the most part 
books and portfolios and whatever might be consid 
ered most useful. 

The Gnome almost groaned aloud. Recognizing 
Kriss Kringle, he feared disturbance between him 
and St. Nicholas upon their meeting. It must neces 
sarily happen, indeed, that when these two beings 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 865 

went upon their several rounds, the time would at 
last arrive wherein they would have encountered. 
Now that it had come about, who should answer for 
the consequences ? But St. Nicholas, when he saw 
his rival, merely smiled watched him composedly 
and unruffled as he slowly stalked past, seeming not 
to observe the lookers on and finally disappeared 
with his pine tree through a doorway at the other 
end of the long hall; nor all that while did the Saint 
lose one line or curve of his own now pleasant 
expression. 

" An hour ago," he said, " I would have been very 
angry at meeting him. But now I know full well 
that there are enough to satisfy all my desires and 
aspirations among such as love me and cannot be 
turned aside from me. Kriss Kringle can never be 
to people what I am. Who ever heard of him a gen 
eration ago ? But now there are old men who knew 
and waited for me in their boyhood. What can he 
do but strive to conciliate with his gifts ? But I, 
standing beside old friends who have fallen from 
their once generous faith, can touch their souls with 
sparks of their olden sympathy and surely guide 
them back to the better and holier nature of their 
youth. His gifts are calculating and soulless 
looked forward to as the mere reward of months 
of endeavor, rewards, indeed, not spontaneous 
benefits ; my offerings fall like Heaven s sunshine 
upon both the wicked and the good, not as pay 
ment for any past services, but as happy acknowl 
edgments of a bright and pleasant season that all 
should alike enjoy. And who is he, after all?" the 
31* 



366 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

Saint added, in vein of earthly pride. " He comes 
we know not whence, and goes we know not where. 
When he is through his labors, he fades away or 
departs on foot, while I We will return, Gnome, 
to our sleigh and six." 

With that they attempted to step forth from the 
little recess, but before they could do so, it began 
slowly to ascend, passing through an aperture in the 
ceiling above. At first sight, the whole building 
seemed sinking down from around it ; and the two 
occupants sat tightly holding themselves upon the 
seat, and gazing about in evident uneasiness. Nor 
was it until they had passed upward for a long space 
that they solved the mystery and regained com 
posure. 

" It is certainly a very pleasant method of ascent 
far more so than a chimney, I should judge," the 
Gnome remarked. " How many novelties I am see 
ing this night, to be sure! " 

Thus, almost noiselessly, they ascended, story after 
story seeming to fly downward past them and at last 
they stopped. A wire door, which had closed of itself 
in front, again opened in the same manner and the 
Saint and the Gnome stepped forth. Looking around, 
they found themselves once more in the plain uncar- 
peted hall beneath the roof. Could there be any 
doubt about the matter, the open scuttle from which 
they had so boldly descended would have reassured 
them. From one of the rooms came quick sounds of 
mingled thumps and scraping; it was the Head Waiter 
executing an extemporized double-shuffle in cele 
bration of the just discovered California breast-pin. 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 367 

Not stopping now to add any congratulations of their 
own, St. Nicholas and the Gnome passed by, climbed 
up the scuttle ladder and so at last stood again upon 
the roof. 

The little sleigh was safe where they had left it 
and the reindeer lay dozing and blinking in front of 
it. So motionless had they rested that an inch of 
snow that had fallen during the night lay as yet 
unshaken from their sleek hides. The snow squall 
had passed over and the sky was clear again. Red 
now in the east with the rosy dawn in every 
direction brightening with the coming of the new 
Christmas Day. Down in the city streets the lights 
were all extinguished and already the movement of 
population began to be plainly visible. Far out in 
the distance still glowed the revolving light-house 
beacon but it was paling before the coming day and 
its gleaming gold was turned to silver lustre. A 
few stars still shining in the sky, but soon to be 
extinguished white caps upon the river and bay 
below a long black steamer puffing in from distant 
port the further hills beginning to grow brighter 
against the increasing blueness of the horizon 
truly, as the Gnome now again exclaimed, it was a 
beautiful world and he longed greatly to remain 
in it, 

" And why not then remain ?" inquired the Saint. 
" What can there be, indeed, to hinder?" 

" Nay, I cannot tell," said the Gnome, " except 
that I seem to have some duty belonging to me 
where now I abide and it must be right that I 
should perform it to the end. When or where I 



368 ST. NICHOLAS ANT> THE GNOME. 

was born or whether I was ever born at all and 
have not always existed, I cannot tell. I only know 
that for more centuries than I can remember I have 
lived in the dark bowels of the earth guarding that 
treasure. Who committed it to my charge or for 
what purpose whether I shall always guard it, or 
whether some time it will come into a destined 
use, whether the griffin will one day try to steal it 
from me or whether griffins are really extinct all 
this I cannot tell. It is enough for me to know 
that I have been placed in charge for some good 
purpose and in some spirit of needful trust and that 
there it is my duty to remain." 

"You teach me a lesson, Gnome," St. Nicholas 
cried, " and it must be far from me to reject it. If 
you, in your life of silence, darkness and monotony 
do not repine, why then should I, whose life is one 
of moving to and fro among the beatitiful scenes of 
this upper world ? If you, who know not the 
reason for your task, remain content, why should 
not I who recognize the value and purpose of my 
duty, seeing how it is to make others happy, feeling 
so well that in doing this I cannot fail to add 
to my own pleasure as well ? Nay, I am offended 
with myself that ever I let myself be downcast or 
troubled with my lot. Never again shall voice 
of undue complaint or despairing thought come into 
utterance through me." 

Saying this, he looked once more so well pleased 
and happy so thoroughly again did the olden 
expression of jovial serenity and peace diffuse itself 
upon his face so cheerily did he take from his hat- 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 369 

band his long neglected pipe and send forth upon 
the morning air the fragrant incense of his content 
and thankfulness, that the little Gnome felt impelled 
to clap his hands with spontaneous outbreak of 
admiration. 

" And forget not, furthermore, to think of this," 
said the Gnome, " that if I, who am so small and 
thin and dark, can forbear repining at my unloveli- 
ness, how much more easily should not you, so hand 
some in your plumpness, so beautifully tinted in the 
very center of your features, so graceful in all " 

" Let us now go, " the Saint interrupted, perhaps 
not altogether as well pleased with the ingenuous 
compliment to his personal appearance as he might 
have been had it come from some one of more 
enlarged experience and observation. " See, 
already the sun is close at hand and we should no 
longer tarry. " 

He pointed towards the east, where now the clouds 
that had hung about the horizon were brightening 
in the radiance of the coming orb. Like courtiers 
left deserted and clustering in subdued and mourn 
ful raiment outside the king s gate, the clouds had 
rested through the night upon the distant hills in 
darksome tints. Now the king was coming forth ; 
and they put on again their festive robes of gold 
and purple and with the freshening breeze, sailed 
away in joyous brightness to herald among all lands 
his majesty s approach. 

Feeling the tightened rein, the little reindeer now 
scrambled up from the roof, shook off the light 
coating of snow, spread out their tiny hoofs and 



370 ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GNOME. 

sprang merrily into the air, upon their homeward 
route. Rising thus invisible to men below; though, 
perchance if human ears had been held attentive 
and alert, the pleasant tinkle of the sleigh-bells 
might for an instant have been heard. For a moment 
only, however ; so rapidly did the sound grow faint 
and then become altogether lost in the increasing 
distance, so speedily was the joyous tinkle over 
powered by more sonorous clashing. 

For at that instant the Sun appeared, lifted in regal 
state above the horizon, with thick battalions of spears 
of golden light advanced before him. And as though 
his coming were the expected signal, lo! there was 
heard at once the clanging peal of many bells from 
the great city below rising at first far off in single 
note of praise, then taken up hither and thither in 
harmonious concord chime answering to chime and 
tower to tower all in pleasant unison of joy ring 
ing down their sweet salutation to mankind below. 
To the poor menial, who listening to that glad 
acclaim, the meaning of which he could scarcely half 
comprehend, yet felt his uncultured soul stirred with 
something of the true spirit of the day and thence 
forth moved with unwonted alacrity upon his cease 
less round of toil. To the rosy child, which aroused 
from its visionless sleep by the joyous peal, sprang at 
once into laughing and exultant wakcfulness and 
hastened to possess itself of the various treasures 
the good Saint had left behind him hurrying 
with rapid feet, lest the bright array might 
prove an unsubstantial vision and vanish before 
attainment, dreaming not in its innocence that so 



ST. NICHOLAS AND THE GKOME. 371 

far from being a chimera this was one of those happy 
moments that would remain a gilded memory 
through life. To the lovelorn maiden, who now 
with quieted heart could dreamily lie still and listen 
to that pleasant clangor in the upper air and feel 
that her perturbed spirit had regained those joyous 
utterances that could vibrate in sweet sympathetic 
accord with the merry metre of the bells. To the 
worldly man, long worn and tossed with sordid aims 
and ambitions, who, under newer impulses now giv 
ing his stifled fancy its natural bent, could let his 
imagination flow back to olden times and feel that 
he was a boy again and seem, amid the swinging of 
the chimes, to hear those other bells for which, when 
young, he had been wont to listen as token of the 
coming of the good St. Nicholas, that kindly Saint 
who, though deemed a childish fancy had of late 
stood so near him and with gentle influence had led 
him into that line of purer thought which had brought 
his better nature forever out from the rust and 
mildew that had so long encrusted it. To all, 
indeed, of every name and nature and to whom 
want or inquietude or sorrow were not unknown; 
that they, also, might lift up their voices in sweet 
acclaim and rejoice alike for the blessings of peace 
and comfort now brought to them by the gladden 
ing spirit of the bright Christmas festival.